Two weeks ago, I went to the cottage: Celebrated Dad's birthday (a celebration that will not be complete until we attend beerfest on Saturday). Rode some good miles... including a 40-mile ride where I only unclipped ONCE the entire time, when I had to make a left onto Route 2 to ride the last 7 miles to the cottage. Walked the beach with the kids quite a bit. Saw the parade and the fireworks. We skipped the fire on the beach this year, as the weather on the last night was threatening.
W and I came back from the cottage without the kids. They stayed on with my folks for a few days and we had a couple of days of freedom from the tyranny of 6:30pm dinner. It was odd, I had too many things I wanted to do with that time and I had a hard time arranging it all. I did play water polo for the first time (fun!), work a bit (but not as much as I had hoped), and ride the potowatami trail (18 miles of hot, BUGGY hills -- I wanted a big challenge and I got it. Some tender parts of my anatomy were not on speaking terms with me after the ride, but we are all recovered now).
Then I took off for Interlochen to rescue my parents from the kids and attend a cousin's wedding. The grandparents (my folks) were 'plumb wore out' for sure after 5 days with the kids. I have rather exuberant children, I guess:) The wedding was a wedding. Very special for the most immediate people involved, I suppose, but I felt rather removed from the whole thing and fled pretty early when the children started to flag. Even after three cupcakes, Owen still would not dance more than a minute with me. E looked pretty worn out as well and she was dragging the whole next day. We ventured out to my aunt and uncle's cottage nearby and I borrowed one of their kayak's to take each kid out for a paddle. The wind was huge and kept us off the main part of Spider Lake, but there several sheltered bits that we could access. Both kids actually seemed interested in how to kayak and happily listened to me prattle on about stroke techniques, wet exits, and the like. Having them one-on-one is amazing... getting to interact with them instead acting the referee.
This past week has been one with W working lots of hours for his new job and me being at home with the kids. I had not finished the writing I needed to the week before, but friends A and G stepped in to give me some much needed time and I cranked out 22 pages on the Minneapolis research. This is a first attempt at writing on this material, so some of it was slow going, but I have enough done that I should be able to get good feedback from my writing group when we meet on Friday.
Yesterday I hung out with the kids in the morning, spending way too much time getting them to leave each other alone as we made the rounds of town gathering things for E's week at camp (she left this afternoon!) and checking out the Farmers' Market. I fled after lunch to ride in Thomas and Luke's alleycat around Ypsi. They had done such a nice job planning, it was a shame only a small group turned out to ride. In classic form, I changed my mind on my route (it is sort of like a scavenger hunt) as we were starting and then had to make up a new route while riding. The new route was fine, but prevented me from getting the bonus checkpoints. As it turns out, it did not matter in terms of my final time. I came in after riders 1 & 2, but then there was a long gap before anyone else rolled up. Rider 2 missed a checkpoint, though, so I took second place. Okay, the field was tiny, but, for the moment, let's not focus on that :) Anyway, thanks to Thomas and Luke, who not only sponsored, planned, and ran the race, but then fed us too!
Next stop for the day was the Corner and the Shadow Art Fair. The kids and W met up with me there. Friends came out, bike folk came out... it was a fun overlap of several different parts of my social world. The kids were bored and tired but I distracted them with lemonade and nachos while W spent his allowance on posters and t-shirts. Then he took them home so that I could roll home peacefully a bit later. I didn't buy any art this time around -- I have already bought from many of the folks there at previous Shadows and the leather bag lady wasn't there this time! I'd been toying with splurging on a funky bag with a long strap as a 40th birthday present for myself... guess it was not meant to be.
And that brings us to today... we made pancakes with blueberries and finished packing E up for camp. She has been so excited, I hope it lives up to her expectations. I loved sleep-away camp as a kid and it has been more fun than I expected to see her gear up for it. I wrote her a letter already! While W took her to camp, O and I rode the mtb/trail-a-bike rig up to the pool for a swim. He is so funny on the bike. He likes to sing as we cruise along, peddles like mad on the downhills (the boy likes speed), and is generally quite the good sport bumping along behind me. We chatted for a moment with the returning Bike Ypsi riders, but they had taken a route that would have been waaaay too long/fast for us. Another day I'll take O and go with a B group for a Sunday Social Ride.
This morning's distraction/writing warm up activity was to unsubscribe myself from lists/mass mailings that are cluttering up my e-mail in-boxes. It felt good. NARAL, NOW, Amnesty International, you all do lovely things, but I don't really want to know about every single one of them... just take my money, keep your website current, and I'll check in when I can.
Now I just wish someone would come along and so a similar "unsubscribe" for all the tangible things cluttering up my life. I'd work on it myself, but it is REALLY time to work now.
The staff is sounding me out on my impending move into the big office. Meeting schedules for the fall are being set. "Congratulations" are coming in from my colleagues. All of this is intruding a bit on my summer, but I figure these little things can be a good chance for me to get a bit more intentional about the interaction habits and style I want to practice while department chair.
First order of business is to be much more guarded about e-mails. If it is a question, idea, or comment that I don't want circulated throughout the entire college, I am not going to put it in an e-mail. This is going to mean many, many more phone calls (which I detest) but I think the good of this policy outweighs the bad.
The second item on my list is to write everything down for myself and, when necessary, for others. I've worked with our current dean long enough to know that she will agree to things in meetings and then, when it comes time for them to actually happen, has no memory of said agreement. I will cultivate the habit of the follow-up/confirmation/"this-is-what-we-agreed-to" e-mails. There are times when I also need a prompt to remember how things were left after a meeting, so I vow to keep track!
Third, I'm going to try to keep a lid on my sarcasm. Okay, okay, stop laughing. I know it will be difficult, but it is too easily misunderstood or mis-used. It is more the latter that concerns me, but I figure suppressing my acerbic wit for a term won't kill me and will help ensure that I leave office in 2009 as a well-loved dictator. Er, leader, I mean.