Angela Amman

Some second grade changes

Second gradeThis weekend — and week, to be honest — was a whirlwind of places we needed to be, things we wanted to do, and a little bit of everything in between.

I’m trying to breathe in the quiet moments and mine them for energy during the chaotic ones.

This school year has been the most beautiful mess of busyness, something on which I thrive — until I don’t.

Days flow like water, and I hope I always remember how it feels to cocoon ourselves in the kitchen after a long day, dancing together while making the quickest meal I can forage after a long day. I hope I always remember the ways she teeters between childhood and not.

I want to remember second grade.

She picks up books without prompting, and she’s getting fast enough that I forget sometimes that her vocabulary is still catching up with her interest level.

She doesn’t want princess movies but the live action The Descendants — and the accompanying soundtrack on repeat-repeat-repeat all day.

I don’t bother suggesting clothes, dance outfits, or that she pull back her hair. Her fashion independent streak asserted itself early, but she’s even more resistant lately — unless she’s rifling through my closets or drawers, directing what she wants me to wear.

Yet she still needs (bunches of) help twisting pins into her hair to make a bun, and her handwriting devolves to a messy scrawl when something else competes for her attention during homework time.

Exactly when I am the most frustrated — ok, fine, maybe a few minutes past that point — she does something that leaves me in awe.

The other day, she was supposed to be getting ready for bed, but she decided to work on a school assignment not due for another day. I wanted to hurry her, the clock ticking into my evening work time, chipping away at the patience already worn thin by the end of the day.

The assignment had to do with writing a “small moment story,” something I’ve worked on in various writing groups, with various adult writers. I cherish small moments, the emotion that reveals itself as you focus on details we often gloss over in our daily lives.

Unlike some days, she took her time with her writing, remembering spacing and lines and doing her best to sound out words with care instead of dashing off the first few letters that came to mind.

She added details without my prompting, peeling away layers, and showing bits of humor and whimsy as she filled up the lined page. At one point, she glanced at what she’d already written, shining eyes shocked that she’d filled up so much of the journal page before her story was finished.

I feel like that with her, and with Dylan, too. Their lives, so far, only overlap mine by a fraction, but our small moment stories weave magically together to fill so much of my life’s journal.

I closed my eyes, impatience tamped down by gratitude, for a little while longer.

Later, I kissed her goodnight. I murmured words close to her ear that made her eyes shine brighter than the stars projected onto her ceiling. I closed the door to a certain, prescribed crack and went downstairs, so grateful for the silence — and for the laughter and music echoing whispers between the walls.


Beach towelsWe use a lot of towels.

Beach days and pool afternoons, running workouts in the humidity and a little girl with tons of hair who loves to wrap it in a turban after a shampoo before shedding the towel in various locations around the house.

Sometimes I wonder if we should use them longer between launderings. Then I bury my face into a fresh towel and remember how comforting the smell of fresh linen closet can be.

Besides, towel laundry is simple, methodical, mind-clearing. I gather them together, hoping the tiny bit of dampness doesn’t seep into my clothes, and dump them into the washer. Colors swirl together, and I don’t worry about fading or bleeding or whether I should be washing them on a more delicate cycle.

The transfer to the dryer doesn’t involve any additional thought. High heat, turned on before I climb the stairs to go to sleep. I don’t have to worry about wrinkles when they tumble to a stop and cool on top of each other, tossed and tangled.

Some nights, I only have the energy for towel laundry.

Early mornings seep into long days, and the idea of dividing colors and materials seems cloying instead of calming.

Those nights — like tonight — I wash the towels.

In the morning they will be clean and dry. I, too, will awaken anew, fresh and grateful for small moments like swimming with friends, steamy showers, and the scent of shampoo on my children’s hair.

Goodbye to summer

Lake Huron


Happy Labor Day, friends.

Saying goodbye to summer hurts a little more this year.

The kids grew into these little people who make jokes and help pack their own bags and have decent suggestions for meals. They accept, “We’re almost there,” and “The water bottles are empty. We’ll be home soon,” — most of the time. Our time together, in this last summer before my little buddy goes to school full time, sped by too quickly, leaving memories in its wake.

Between the waves of content and joy drift unfulfilled promises I made to myself — about writing more, for one, but other little things I’m trying to soften my focus against as we tumble into fall.

I want the memories to outweigh the regrets, especially since they are only this exquisite age for this exquisite summer, and I have other days, weeks, months, years to grow into my dreams.

So today, as we’re packing lunch boxes and schoolbags, choosing first day of school clothes and scrubbing the last bits of summer from under fingernails, I’ll do my best to look ahead with anticipation.

I’ll try my best not to wish for just a few more beach days. This weekend, I stretched out on our blanket, with my head close to the sand and watched grains shift with each breeze and each footstep, and I know the bittersweet truth is we will never go back to the exact same beach again.

Starts and stops and restarts

First Detroit Tigers game The Detroit Tigers currently sit at four (give or take) games below a 0.500 season, and five (give or take) games back from a Wild Card spot in the Major League baseball playoffs. They lost the one game I attended this season, which doesn’t make me feel like I bring bad luck because they’ve lost a bunch of games.

Still, whenever they put together a few wins, which happened last week, the commentators start talking about streaks and climbing up in the standings and making a run for a strong finish. Then they manage to lose another handful of games in a row, and people start whispering about next year even though there are bunches of games left to be played this season.

I feel a little bit like that about my summer.

Since school ended in June, with endless days gleaming ahead like sun setting over Lake Michigan, I’ve felt the push and pull of moving forward with goals — running, writing, house projects, summer work packets for the kids — and set backs — lazy mornings, late night Netflix viewing, runs skipped in favor of finally sleeping in our freshly painted bedroom for just an extra hour.

We’ve had spans of gorgeous days — family time, friends visiting from across the country, three blissful days in northern Michigan — and bursts of unexpected beauty, like a full rainbow leading us home after a rainstorm.

I want to hold onto those moments as we close out summer. I want to banish the guilt over lapsed to-do lists and missed goals, though I know some of it will be verbally cursed under my breath as I struggle to catch up when fall encroaches on summer’s warmth.

The guilt, I know, is ridiculous. Our summer isn’t like a baseball season. We aren’t getting paid for this alternately productive and lazy life. No one stands at a Labor Day gate and checks off summer accomplishments versus intentions.

Fall and winter loom, and days unfold like an accordion, and I know I need to make a little more progress than I did these last few months.

But for now, there are sweaty brows to be kissed and a few bits of Mackinac fudge left to sweeten the last days of summer.

I plan to savor both.

What’s been your favorite part of this summer?

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