I am a speech-language pathologist and I work for a public school district so I get to enjoy my summers off from work with my children. This is a wonderful gift and I love the lazy time I get to spend with my kids…usually. While I get extremely annoyed when I hear people say things like, “Ugh when does school start? My kids are driving me nuts!” since I get so little time with my kids during the school year, I will admit that filling our days with fun (but budget-friendly) activities can be a challenge. I also know that some ideas may seem inspired at first but can turn into an epic fail.

Last week was our first week of summer so the teacher in me decided that the first stop would be our public library. I LOVE public libraries. I love the smell of the books, the peace and quiet, and the sense of community I feel when I’m surrounded by other town residents taking advantage of a service offered by the town. My girls love it too. I think it has something to do with feeling like they are on a shopping spree. It’s all free?? I can get as many books as I want?? FOR FREE!?!?!? Yep. Let’s just mark that due date on Mommy’s calendar to keep it free. So we trooped into the library one morning and came out with our arms full. On our way to the car I noticed a brightly painted bench and remembered that an organization in town had sponsored a summer art exhibit called, “Share a Chair”. Artists submitted ideas to decorate Adirondack benches and winners were chosen. These benches were then placed along the two miles of our Main Street through the center of town. One of those benches was in front of the library and it was beautiful. I decided, at that moment, since we had nothing else to do, we would find all of the benches and take a picture of each one. Great idea, right? Art, culture, and FREE entertainment all wrapped up in a fun package!

So here are my girls, cute as can be, in the final collage I made of our pictures:

Now those pretty pictures are, of course, the Facebook version of the fun activity we did that day. Overall I have to say the benches were beautiful, the experience was fun, and I’m glad we did it. However, these pictures do not adequately represent the reality of our three hour saga of sitting on benches.

First, did I say that it was about 90 degrees and the humidity was a sultry 100%? By the time we hit Bench 5 we had been in and out of the car three times never allowing for the AC to really get the car cool. Speaking of getting in and out of the car, my youngest is still in a car seat so by this point I’m already exhausted with the buckling/unbuckling process and I gave a very serious one minute of thought to just putting her in a seatbelt since the next bench was not too far down the same road (I DIDN’T do it, I’m a responsible mother…ugh). At Bench 6 this same little one was begging for water and I noticed that the shirt I had chosen for her was not made of the most breathable material and she was beginning to sweat profusely. It was at this point that the oldest one, in her snarkiest tween voice, “reminded” me that it was WAY past lunch time and no wonder the baby was whining. The middle one responded, in her best “I’m the perfect child” voice with a nasty comment about the oldest one always being the complainer who ruins everything and a small fight broke out between them. Not wanting to stop I said, “Please stop, this is fun, one more bench” about four more times before I realized I was creeping up on the fine line of abuse and would need to stop home for food, water, and (for the baby) a wardrobe change.

I also need to point out that some of these benches were not in the most convenient spots for parking and picture taking. Yes, we could have walked the entire trek but it was so hot and I didn’t have the stroller so while some were clumped together we got into and out of the car about a million times (ok, not that many times but it felt like it). On at least three occasions I was seriously concerned that I would be hit by a car as I tried to take a picture and on other occasions I was convinced my car would be hit since I was parked in questionable spots. So I decided a break was necessary and we went home for lunch. During our lunch break thunder clouds began to roll in and I began to panic a bit. I really wanted to get these pictures in and I wanted the girls in the same clothes (except for the baby of course but I was able to find a similar shirt so only those in the know would see this wardrobe change). So I rushed them through their meal and back out we went (this time with a little less excitement and me feeling like this was more of a chore than entertainment but determined to keep up my chipper “this is fun” attitude).

Bench 12 was being “freshened up” by one of the artists and so we couldn’t take a picture. She promised me she would be done in fifteen minutes so we decided we would have to come back. We were chased by bees at Bench 14 and walked through high weeds and grass (ugh ticks!) to get to Bench 19. Then we had to backtrack to Bench 12. But we did it…we thought. Once we got home and everyone was happy, hydrated, and cool I began to edit my photos and build my collage. It was then that I realized we had only seen nineteen benches. I wasn’t quite sure how many benches there were but I KNEW it couldn’t be nineteen. It had to be twenty or, worse, twenty-five. So…back in the car we went. There was absolutely no excitement at this point and not only were there threatening thunder clouds but the wind had picked up as well. No matter…we were going to find this bench. We drove up and then down that stretch of road with four sets of eyes scanning for the missing bench (well three sets of eyes since I was being a responsible driver, of course). No bench. So…I called it. We were done. Whoo-hoo, Good Job girls! My girls responded with a half-hearted, yea, and we went home for some ice cream. Here are some of the pictures that did not make it into my collage:

Bench 7

Was that a bee? It was a bee! Bees! Bees!

Bench 8

Seriously, Mother. I can’t even deal with her anymore.

Bench 9

Mommy, if you don’t get me something to drink and eat this minute I’m running away.

Bench 10

This alien is creeping us out. Are we DONE?

Bench 11

I don’t care if it’s the last one. I’m NOT smiling. I don’t care that the car just beeped at you to move. I’m NOT smiling.

That night my darling husband (whom I had actually chatted with throughout the saga and mentioned not finding the last bench) said, oh yeah, it’s at the train station but not on the road. We had to go into the parking lot near the tracks. Well thanks, honey. That piece of information would have been useful HOURS AGO.

So here they are, the next morning and in different clothes, at Bench 20. It was actually my favorite one. Especially since we had to run from the crazy train station parking lot attendant who tried to ticket my car while we laughed our heads off. Happy Summer Mommies! Try to have some fun.

Bench 6

We only have this ONE bench today, right?