Vacation re-entry



Vacation re-entry is a bitch. Especially when you leave the cool mountains of Colorado for the fiery urban sauna of home. Oh Austin, I'm trying to love you again but right now I'm deep in the stages of grief.

1. Denial. Noooo. This can't be that bad, can it? Sure vacation is over, but it's still summer. I like summer. I like home. I like real life. I like routines and chores. I like heat. Wait, what?

2. Anger. What in holy hell have I done? How did I get home and why is it 1,000 freaking degrees in the shade? Why are my kids asking me for meals or wanting to be taken to the pool? Why am I expected to open the bulging credit card bills that arrived while we were gone? Why do I feel so cramped? Are there suddenly more people in my family? We have spent two solid weeks together! How much more Together Time do they all expect?

3. Bargaining. Maybe if I don't unpack and don't do laundry we can just tack on another trip that leaves tomorrow. Maybe Hubs and I can alternate working while the other drives. We only saw a little snow in Colorado...we really should find some place colder this time. Alaska! Icebergs! I would cancel vacations for the next two years just to get a few more days of fun right now.

4. Depression. I will never be as happy as I was that one day last week, running down the mountain in long sleeves. Or that morning I drank 3 cups of coffee under a rainbow sunrise. Or that night of the outdoor concert when we stretched out at the base of a mountain, the sky changing colors every few minutes, the kids rolling down nearby hills, the wine and laughter with friends mingling into a perfect harmony.

5. Acceptance. If I can't be on vacation, I might as well be earning money toward the next one. School starts soon, and that means more hours in the day to work. Oh joy. But honestly, do I want to be the friend who complains about her vacation hangover? Don't we all hate that person? Ok fine. I'm home. I'm unpacked. I'm dealing. I'll just leave it at that.


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How are you surviving the last gasp of summer, my friends? I'm sending y'all strength and air-conditioned vibes!

A week of summer

It was only a week--a tiny blip in the 12-week universe that is summer around here. But for 7 days I kept my camera handy (Ok, handier than normal) and tried to capture our family's summer vibe in images, while still enjoying the fleeting moments as they happened. That's always the trick. Typically my kids hardly notice when I shoot photos of them, but they definitely do when the volume picks up. More than once this past week I heard, "Mooommm...put the phone down." I did, I swear...but not before I captured a few goodies. Hope you enjoy! To see the full #aweekofsummer series, visit my Instagram feed (@ewmcguire).

Happy Summering! Liz


If you like this, you might like my #aweekofmornings or #aweekofevenings series.

All the hours


We are now fully entrenched in summer mode: the good, the bad, the sunburned.

It’s everything you might expect and are probably experiencing now: really long days, late bedtimes and more wet towels than you realized you actually owned. The days are either luxuriously long or painfully long, and you never really know which until you’re past the point of no return.

Where does the time go? Today ours went toward epic blanket-fort building and several chapters of Harry Potter. It went toward hatching plans for homemade ice cream, and then dealing with the fallout when the plans didn’t materialize. A solid hour went toward organizing two shelves of the garage and convincing the kids to “help” by carving up cardboard boxes in the driveway.

Another hour went toward a frantic last-minute run to the nursery before closing time so we could plant the vegetable garden we’ve tried to finish all week. As with any multi-step project that involves all five of us, there were cheers and tears. When someone dared to ask, “Why are we doing this again?” I was quick to snap, “Because! Because this was all y’all's idea! And because I’m following through! And because planting this garden is probably the most optimistic thing we will do all summer!”

So yeah. Optimism. I'm stocking up on it like it's sunscreen. How is your supply of it coming along?

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But wait, there’s more happening!

Beginning tomorrow I’m starting another mini-project on Instagram. Similar to my other ones (#aweekofmornings and #aweekofevenings) I’ll be documenting #aweekofsummer.

I hope you'll tune in!

A game called Summer

2015.gamelife We are one week into summer and for the most part still enjoying the honeymoon phase. The kids have made ambitious Summer Fun lists for us and I’ve made equally ambitious Summer Chores lists for them.

Parenting during the summer is all about finding that sweet spot between freedom and structure, and while it’s never a breeze it’s getting easier as the kids get older. Partly because of the two lists mentioned above. Bored?’s some laundry to fold! Who’s turn to walk the dog?

This week the kids had no camps or activities, and we quickly found an easy groove of swimming in the morning and hibernating inside during the afternoon heat. In theory, the afternoon hours double as my work time while the kids read, play Legos or use up their screen time. Quiet is of course relative. One afternoon the TV watching turned into an American Ninja Warrior training session complete with a homemade launchpad and Mt. Midoriyama made from the nice furniture and sofa cushions. Yesterday they were busy writing a script to a movie, but that eventually turned into a contest to see who could walk like the best villain. Who knew the sound of three walking kids could shake the light fixtures? Obviously I need to clarify the rules of our afternoon: No interruptions unless your hair is on fire. No climbing doorways. No stacking large furniture. No walking like Professor Snape.

And then there was the afternoon my 6-year-old opened my office door, frowned, and said, “You’re probably going to say no, but will you play a game with me?” The big kids had refused and he was feeling lonely and dejected. Against my better judgement, I agreed.

Now, I’m a fan of games but I have no patience for ones with more than three rules. Give me Battleship, Connect Four or Uno. Even Monopoly is pushing my limits. Don’t even bother bringing Risk into the house. Of course my son pulled out Life. He’s been dying to play this, he said. Dying.

I’m dying too. Life? Worst game ever. Nothing says fun like mortgages, taxes and car payments. I’d rather play Colonoscopy than Life.

In case you haven’t played in a while, there are several points in the game where you and your little plastic car, which may or may not hold several tiny pink or blue plastic kids in the backseats, must make life choices and choose various paths along the way. All roads lead to the promise of a glorious retirement, but the smart players pick the most lucrative and efficient route.

Some of the forks required a little explaining to my son. First, you can either go to college, or you can start a job. Well,’re going to college and that’s that. (He chose the college path.)

Next up: Change jobs or stay on the same route? Hmmm...Tough call. Personally I’ve changed jobs a lot. (He took the path of stability.)

And then, more than halfway through the game, after surviving a job loss and buying a $5,000 flat-screen TV, he was presented with this choice: The Family route or the Other route. He already had one pink plastic baby, but no spouse. He steered his car to the Other route.

“Ugh. I don’t care about more kids. I want to win! I want more MONEY!” He paused. I held my tongue because who am I to make that call for him? Sure, you might make more money if you bypass the kid route. Pick the career path and maybe you’ll be crazy rich. Maybe you’ll be able to afford a dozen tiny plastic cars and houses. Maybe you will have a fabulous and fulfilling career. Maybe you won’t be interrupted to play a board game in the middle of a deadline. But remember, there’s more to the kid route than these little squares convey. Stuff that fake paper money can’t buy. Your choice, son, just keep all this in mind.

“Mom," he said, catching my eye, "You know it’s not real life here in this game, right Mom? Even though it’s called Life on the box, it’s just a game. You know that, right?”

Yes, yes I sure do. Your move.

And with that, summer is off to a fine start.


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Don't miss a bit of the summer shenanigans....Follow me on Instagram or Facebook!

Summer Snapshot pt. 1

It's now half-way through summer and we've hit triple digits here in Austin. I don't even have to look at the thermometer to know for sure, because the clearest sign is that every little thing my family is doing has started to irritate me. Beginning with swiping my stuff every time I turn around. Which is how this came to be... photo 1 copy

And then I realized that even though I'm always happier in the sunshine, I've been finding more and more reasons to stay indoors. Like when this 3-hour reorganizing emergency happened...




In between the obsessive-compulsiveness, we are tossing in some traditional summertime fun.

Like this...

photo 6

And this...

photo 1

And this...

photo 3

Lots of this...

photo 5

And when I'm lucky, some of this...

photo 4


But as we know, all play and no work makes for a boring household so I'm also trying to earn the Meanest Mom Ever badge. Exhibit A: insisting that my new 10-year-old finish his birthday thank-you notes while waiting at a doctor's appointment.

photo 7

All in all, it's shaping up to be a great second half of summer. Starting tomorrow we are escaping the heat, heading to the mountains, and leaving the label maker and To-Do lists at home. I'm bringing the camera, of course, so follow me on Instagram and just dare me to come back home from paradise.


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Battle cry

2014.06.20.SiblingRevelry-7 Four weeks into the summer and this is what my kids are fighting about:


He stole that one awesome LEGO piece that only came in that one awesome set.

She never has to shower first.

He's touching me!

Why won't he let me hug him?

He said he hates broccoli the most but only I do.

He's copying me!

She's ignoring me!

It's my turn to be It.

I always have to be It.

She harvested ALL of my Family Barn wheat and it takes 24 hours to regenerate.

He moved my pencil.

She sat in my chair.

He never walks the dog as often as I do.

He didn't let me find the farting cow on Pictureka.

He threw my favorite torpedo in the deep end.

She always guesses the trivia questions before me.

He smooshed all the silly putty into one big pile and now we can't tell whose is whose.

He keeps unplugging my Kindle from his charger.

She keeps using my Kindle charger and it's not my fault she lost hers.

He called me a brat.

She keeps calling it indigo but it's really blue.

He's humming.

She's smacking.

He's clapping.

He never gets in trouble.

She always gets her way.

They always, always think they're right.


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Want more? You might enjoy this one or this one about sibling revelry.






2013.08.CB.lowerloopThe last gasp of summer. Wow, the month sure got away from me. Or did I get away from it? A little of both and I think that was for the best. I’m now pushing myself out of summer mode...even though here in Austin we are still applying sunscreen and guzzling water just to make the 4-block walk to our favorite pancake joint. So the last time I wrote, I was mere inches from my breaking point. It seems that the culprit was at his as well, and that all we needed was to escape the heat for a while. So we did just that and as you may have noticed, I left my blog behind to water the plants, pick up the newspapers, etc.

I'm happy to report that the plants and the blog survived. Let the reunion begin!

*     *     * Are you on Instagram? You can fiind me there! @peaceloveguac


greenieToday I found this drawing during a marathon cleaning spree in which I sorted through mountains of kid artwork, school papers and various other junk that has been collecting for months. A year if I'm completely honest. And by "sorted" I mean actually removing rather than just moving the mountains. The marathon was made entirely possible by the fact that the kids are spending the week away with their grandparents. I love a good purge and am happy to report that a.) I can now see the entire floor of my office and b.) Nothing was living underneath the piles. A week ago I might have interpreted this little scrap of green paper with a raised eyebrow and a flash of concern. I might have tucked away the lightsabers (out of sight, out of mind) or accidentally broken the stick that has become The Best Shooter Gun ever. These weapons! I can't escape them. Yes, it's a natural phase for boys. And yes, we do our best to keep their play focused on imagination, not violence. But still, enough with all the blasting, shooting, killing and lasering. I cannot take another bit of it.

But that would have been me last week.

This week, I stumbled across the drawing and immediately thought, "Oh my sweet boy! Are you sending me a hug from afar? I miss and love you too!"

Sometimes a little distance is all we need.

Last Day

2013.05.Caution-1318-2In the weeks leading up to today...I sketched out a summer mix of spontaneity and structure, forked over hundreds of dollars for camps, panicked that the schedule was too much, then panicked that it was not enough. Then panicked that I was panicking.

I blocked off vacation days, secured lodging, cashed in airline miles, and made plans for puppy camp. I rspv’d to four weddings, bought china, and found a perfect pair of dress shoes for my pickiest child. I purchased new swimsuits and fresh flip flops. Loaded up on sunscreen, hats and water guns.

I attended school parties, spelling bees and poetry readings. I navigated end-of-year nostalgia and tears...both theirs and mine. I hugged one child through a “I’m growing up too fast” breakdown and managed not to fall apart until I had left the room.

I made countless lists, crossed them off, then made even longer ones.

And tonight... We unloaded the mountains of artwork, pencils, notebooks and report cards. We stashed the lunchboxes and hung the backpacks. Over french fries and salad, we toasted the day, then made a Summer of Fun list on scratch paper. On a whim, we climbed to the highest point in town and watched the sun fall on another school year.

I am mostly ready for this new season.

Yes, my "make it happen" list is still long. The closets are an unbearable mess. The artwork litters the house. The family photo albums remain unfinished. Several work projects linger.

I have no idea how or if my list will shrink during a season notorious for stealing my alone time. But I can't argue with the calendar. The kids are ready for lazy days, late nights, fewer rules and more ice cream.

Summer is definitely here. And there is nothing left to do but dive in and play along.

Taking stock

May 2013 GratitudeAs a very busy spring ends, I'm taking a breath before the season changes again.Oh, these transitions. They require so much practical planning and emotional adjusting.

Depending on the day, I find myself either madly cramming in every last project on my hefty To Do list, or paralyzed by those jobs that simply won't get done before summer begins.

When I find myself overwhelmed, my first urge is always to freeze time. I'm a time junkie. Just one more second...I swear that's all I need.

So I do. I find my camera and I freeze time. And the results become a visual gratitude journal, complete with friends, family and the wondrous, inspiring place I call home.

When words fail me, my eyes save me. Every single time.

Diving deep

If summer were one long road trip, we would have now reached the point when the kids start singing 999 Bottles of Beer on the Wall and I consider if we have enough bungie cords to hold them on the roof for at least a few minutes. It's really just too hot for us to be in the car all together, you know? Plenty of parents reach this point and hit the wall. They frantically start calling day camps in search of anything, anything new and fresh to entertain the troops. (Remember how you always wanted to learn more about sheep farming?)

They bribe babysitters to come home early from their exotic vacations. (Seriously, how much Europe can a 20-year-old really appreciate?)

Others join the exodus to higher ground in search of cooler weather, all the while praying that higher altitude means less oxygen, which means less insanity.

As the temperature rises and the calendar stands suspiciously still, others watch their convictions warp and melt like a CD left on the dashboard during a blistering afternoon. I am vulnerable to all these coping strategies, but this week I let my standards take the hit.

As a result, we have ruined countless meals with emergency snow cones. We have skipped the library and hit the bookstore because they have better air conditioning. We have watched a ridiculous amount of TV. We have purchased overpriced "indoor" toy weapons even though I banned these months ago. We have even considered amending the family rule that dictates No Naked Butts on the Couch because honestly, how can you argue when told it is too hot for underwear?

We are hanging in there. We will make our escape soon enough. Higher ground awaits! But for now, we are simply diving in, holding our breath and trying to keep our cool.