We’re still riding out a pandemic of epic proportions and yet there’s some hope for normalcy around the corner. I’m fully vaccinated. Stef is waiting for her second dose… the kids wear their masks like they would wear a pair of gloves in the winter. They wash their hands and use sanitizer like it’s their job. It’s no big deal to them anymore.
So today we ventured out as a family. Still masked up, sanitizer and Clorox wipes at the ready, but we decided to (god help us) go to the mall. I mean the grocery store, or a gas station during this pandemic is one thing, but the mall? It was a stretch, but we needed to get out of the house and to pick up a few things for the upcoming baseball season for the boys.
Oliver has never been to the mall, Jax has been maybe twice when he was in a stroller. This was like releasing to sharks into blood infested waters. I feel like I’d have more control over two monkeys released in a banana favorite (are banana factories real). If was insanity, but we survived. All children were accounted for upon our exit from the depths of hell and mom and dad are still talking to each other.
It was a successful day if you ask me.
The three stages of mall shopping:
1. In awe of the sheer size of the place you are in. The entire scene seems like a surreal version of supermarket sweep.
2. Enjoying perusing the many stores and exciting events. It’s like a carnival and a zoo had a baby. You see something you like, give the workers a plastic card and it’s yours!
3. All of the days hard work cumulates in being driven home snug in your car seat while dreaming of your next trip to shopping heaven (or as dad calls it… hell)!
It’s been 20 years since the first time I wished you a happy birthday. I think I bought you a pair of plaid Abercrombie pants and a six pack of Smirnoff Ice. I probably took you to Olive Garden or Applebee’s and I’m sure we saw a movie afterwards.
It’s been years since that Olive Garden date and a long time since our time was our time. It’s no longer about birthday months or even birthday weekends anymore. As working parents we are tasked with so much more than just being a mom or dad. Parenting can feel isolating and lonely with its constant demands. Yet, somehow we balance it even if it’s not always perfect.
In my short stint as a parent, I’ve already wondered, more times than I like, if I’m doing it right, but one thing I do know is it’s hard. Yet somehow, even in the toughest times including giant tantrums or the occasional full on crying until they pass out, you stay strong. I appreciate you staying strong even when I’m a pain in the ass or act like your third child (or fifth if you count the dogs… then again at least I don’t pee or poop on the floor)!
You may not see it, but you are strong. You are strong for them… Jackson and Oliver will never forget that. It will make them strong and caring and most importantly, empathetic.
Twenty years later, the birthday presents that were plaid pants and Smirnoff may have turned into a teakettle for your night time chai and a travel coffee mug for your long commute after a Board of Eduction meeting… and dinner and a night cap has transformed into standing over a pot of Mac and Cheese and watching Frozen 2 for the 700th time… but no matter what, I loved you then and love you everywhere in between those Abercrombie pants and the teakettle.
Today marked the end of Stephanie and Jax being in charge of our friends pool and cat while they were away. I’m happy to say (to the dismay of Mr. Dave) that the cat and pool survived during this time.
We love these friends, but every time Steph comes home from their house she wants something new. A few months ago it was a boat… then it was a deeper pool… not she’s asking for a cat. A cat??? With two kids and two dogs!!???? That’s friends disownment territory right there.
Day 137: August 2
The world is ending. The Tropical Storm that just hit us was extremely intense. We’ve lost power and the heat and humidity is threatening to take over… it’s going to be a long few days.
Day 138: August 3
Eversource still has not even sent people out to “assess the damage”
Day 139: August 4
…AND I QUOTE: “it will take days to recover power!”
All I knows not enough baby powder in the world for how hot and humid my house is right now
Day 140: August 5
Happy anniversary to a mom and wife who has successfully navigated work, marriage, parenting, and even more difficult… the apocalypse that has been 2020! We may be celebrating in the dark today, but they say candlelight is romantic, amirite? ❤️❤️❤️
Day 141: August 6
Phone and website= down Outage map= “experiencing issues” No text responses Last tweet at 4pm= we’re assessing damages No power for 12 hours… “we’re here when you need us” slogan= NOT A SUPER GOOD LOOK
Day 142: August 7
Spent half the year in quarantine and now we have no power for who knows how long and have to drive to a main road in town to call find out when we might have power back. At least we have each other:
Day 143: August 8
Hour 75 with no power and there is still no end in sight. The pool is turning green and is now half empty because we’ve had to use that water to flush the toilets . I know things could be worse, but 2020 just give us a break !
Day 144: August 9
We are now leaving on approximately hour 99 with no power we made pizza on the grill and ate outside on a relatively nice night.
That was until a tree came down across the street taking out two poles and is now laying across the whole road. Fire trucks and police car sirens are blaring and chainsaws are roaring. So much for sleeping tonight.
Day 143: August 10
Eversource to the rescue (sarcastic voice). We are now on hour 122 and we finally have a crew out here to “assess the situation!” Fingers crossed for some positive news.
Day 144: August 11
“BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL…”
Day 145: August 12
Mother Nature is now F-ING with us. We had power for almost a day and then all of a sudden, the power is gone again. It was only out for five minutes or so, but my PTSD kicked in and everyone in the house almost fainted.
That’s being said we made it though the (almost) second power outage and are now on our way to cranking the AC to North Pole come and leaving every electronic device on in the house.
Day 146: August 13
Today was a horrible, horrible day. Buster had a seizure and we had to rush him to the vet, but this time he is having long term effects. They think it may be neurological but we have to monitor him for the next 72 hours. (UPDATE: After a very visit and days of monitoring hes back to his normal self. Just a little slower. Jax has been so good to buster and is helping him around the house. Oliver even offered to take him around in his little wagon! #BrotherlyLove
Day 147: August 14
It’s been a long summer of reminders. I’m done:
Day 148: August 15
Six year old: “Dad, I want some alone time but my brother won’t leave me alone.”
Me: “Dude, same.”
Day 149: August 16
Cousin hang out day. The four boys got to hang out today.
Day 150: August 17
We’ve been cooped up together for far too long. Apparently, there’s now a cover charge to enter the house. Jax has set up shop in the mudroom with a cash register looking like a bouncer.
Day 151: August 18
Steph told the kids to be good and not fight for 20 minutes so she could take a shower in peace, and then we all laughed and laughed.
Day 152: August 19
This quarantine nonsense has (occasionally) allowed for some quiet time to spend as a family doing things that during a busy summer we would never have the time to do. In those quiet times I always find peace in my life.
The world is upside down, backwards and who knows what right now, but taking time to put away electronics and look through our baseball cards provided us boys one of those quieting moments.
Day 153: August 20
One good thing about quarantine is we’re obviously home a lot more than ever before. So Jax has had time for weekly piano lessons and to practice. He’s beginning to enjoy it and has learned to play a few songs (of course one of those songs happens to be Baby Shark, because why not.
Day 154: August 21
It’s been what feel like 500 years, but tonight we actually got to go out without being parents. A date of sort we both made it through appetizers before we took a nap!
Day 155: August 22
Swimming is a kid favorite activity, picking up after the multiple changes of clothes is not a favorite parent activity.
Day 156: August 23
[8 AM] Wife [walking into living room]: “What time did you get up?” Me: “5AM.” Wife: “But it’s the weekend! WHY SO EARLY?!” Me [sipping coffee]: “I’ve had 3 kid-free hours of silence.” Wife: ….. Me: …. [smiling] Wife: “Why didn’t you wake me?”
Day 157: August 24
We’ve done a lot of family time and some (attempting for) alone time during this pandemic. With these two little monsters calm time is not usually and option. Today was what Steve Irwin might categorize as some “beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.”
Day 158: August 25
Raise your hand if you’ve felt personally victimized by a toddler today…
Day 159: August 26;
Who had “unsurvivable” and “catastrophic” hurricane on their 2020 BINGO card. I hope everyone has evacuated and is safe down there! (PLEASE TAKE YOUR PETS WITH YOU!!!) Ts and Ps 🙏🏼
Day 160: August 27
The planning of the reopening of schools has been a very detailed and interesting experience. we’ve been in “quarantine” for five-plus months and it’s crazy to think that in a couple of weeks we’ll have our students back walking the hallways again. It’s even crazy to think that teachers in our town are prepping to have Jax back in his own school. Educators are the real heroes.
Day 161: August 28
The last Friday before my school is officially back full time. We’ve been trying to prep Jax for going back to school too. We’re all going to sleep a little earlier. (Which just means more time of the boys complaining about having to go bed before actually falling asleep at the same time they always fall asleep no matter what time we put them to bed).
Day 162: August 29
Day 163: August 30
When you and your BFFs are ready to get things started. TMNT Arcade Style!!! This game has been quite the babysitter tonight so moms and dads could sit by the pool and relax a bit.
Day 164: August 31
Today is officially the last day before teachers come back to school in my school district and students then are back a week later. I began this DAY BY DAY QUARANTINE CHRONICLING the day my school district (and most school districts went out). So unless there is some crazy development, this will be the last day by day monthly update of the #CoronaQuarantine.
There were smiles and tears. There were screams and cries. There was anger and there was love. These last 164 days have challenged this mom and dad more than anything in the past. We learned so much about ourselves as people and as parents and I know our boys are ready to back to school (albeit HYBRID).
… and he laid there, as quiet as a mouse still clutching the note as if it was the most important piece of paper a pencil had ever touched.
Earlier, he looked through book after book, he emptied two different shelves, but nothing could quite quench his thirst for poetry as the note that was slid under his door a few minutes prior. He tore through his favorites, cover after cover… title after title… Pete the Cat after Pete the Cat. The right text just wasn’t there.
Like JK Rowling with Harry Potter, or the Wyld Stallyns with the song that saved eternity, some people just have the gift. Tonight, after locking his brother out of his room, Oliver learned Jax is up there with the greatest authors of all time.
The note was slipped under his door in haste in hopes that it would convince Oliver to open up. But that note, three simple words turned into more than the planned imperative sentence. It became a treasure.
As Oliver drifted off into a deep sleep he still clutches the note. Three words that his brother wrote him,,, three words that he will treasure forever…
I’ve been lucky enough in my lifetime to not have to face the kind of natural disasters that so many people deal with between hurricanes down south, earthquakes on the west coast, tsunamis, tornados, sharknados… and the list goes on and on.
Don’t get me wrong we’ve had some serious weather to deal with, Hurricane Sandy and Irene for example. We’ve lost power before. As a matter of fact a few years ago we were without power for almost two weeks during a massive snowstorm. The kids and Steph went to grandma’s house and I “braved”
It here by the fireplace. We lost a lot of food and whatever was in the fridge and freezer… things were tough, but not life threatening. You throw a couple logs on the fire wrap yourself up in sweatpants, a hoodie and a few warm blankets and you can survive… I did. . We have been very lucky. But as of right now… We’re on Day five with no power and it’s becoming an issue.
But this… no power when it’s 90* with 100% humidity outside? That’s some rapture kind of stuff. Right now as I’m writing this, I have decided to sacrifice the fridge and freezer for the ability to live another day. I just “borrowed” two giant ice packs out of the freezer for my upper and lower body. Yes I have a wife and two children who are hot and sweaty, but I’m sorry, it’s hotter than hell right now and at this point it’s survival of the fittest, (or the one willing to walk downstairs in the pitch black and grab an ice pack)!
UPDATE: FYI both ice packs have been confiscated by masked characters who looked very similar to Steph and Jax!!!
At this very second there are four humans and one cockapoo and a mini-schnauzer in a king sized bed… all seem to be cool and asleep. I, on the other hand, am sweating and sleeping on the floor. It is hotter than hades in this house and there is no air being circulated, or any breeze to bring some relief to these children who don’t yet understand that not everyone in the world has central air conditioning.
Yet, we survive and persist, but I’m not going to lie… I’m exhausted. Everyone is exhausted. There’s no power. People are fighting over generators and which tree fell on who’s side of the yard. There’s generators as loud as a WWII tank running all over the neighborhood and people are frustrated. Children are tripping all over extension cords, it’s a war zone.
Here, at Casa de Chronicles, it’s not easy either. Mom works harder in a week than most people work in a life time, dad is trying to create multiple reopening plans for school, the dogs love having everyone home everyday and Oliver and Jax are stuck in the middle… all of that with no power. Every child in 2020 is going to need therapy, because this year keeps on “one-upping itself!”
Luckily when you have good friends you can count on them if you need to borrow some sugar or a stick of butter when you run out… or in my case a massive generator, three gas containers about 800 extension cords!!! So at least we have a small AC unit I found to stick in the window of the bedroom and the refrigerator running and an added bonus is we now have working internet and can now charge all of our devices… because god forbid Jax and Oliver can’t play Tom Gold Run on their iPads!!! Thank god for good friends.
Quotes of the week without power:
“Why won’t Alexa answer me?!??”
“Dad, we still don’t have power” (every 35 seconds as he flips a light switch)
“Can I plug this in here?”
“Someone throw me some soap.” (as I’m in the pool)
“Why doesn’t my iPad work???!???”
“No you can not plug Alexa in to the extension cord running the refrigerator!!!”
Dear Stephanie, for our 14th Anniversary I was supposed to buy you ivory. However, I would never want to harm an elephant or narwhal. So instead I hired a few elephants to come to the neighborhood and allow you to see and touch the real Ivory on these magnificent creatures. I planned have our children ride in on the elephants for an extra surprise.
The problem however is that the elephants became scared by that ridiculous Jeep that speeds down our road playing loud techno music everyday. The elephants went crazy and tore down trees, power lines and wires. The town is a mess, no one has power or running water. This has become a disaster of massive proportions and it’s all my fault.
The thing is… it’s only due to the enormous amount of love I have for you and our IVORY ANNIVERSARY! Do me a favor though, let’s keep this between us and we can just tell everyone I bought you a bar of IVORY Soap for our anniversary.
PS: No elephant or child was harmed in the marking of this blog post!
In all seriousness… Happy anniversary to a mom and wife who has successfully navigated work, marriage, parenting, and even more difficult… the apocalypse that has been 2020! We may be celebrating in the dark today, but they say candlelight is romantic, amirite?
Virtual learning hasn’t stopped an amazing teacher from making sure her students are OK in person, even after the school year is done. Teachers are the hardest working and most underappreciated people in the world! (I won’t reveal who this teacher is)… but know that I would want my sons in her class every year!
Day 107: July 2:
My favorite part of summer is when my kids ask for the sprinkler and then I turn on the sprinkler and then they cry hysterically if they get wet from the sprinkler and then they yell at me to turn the sprinkler back on after I turn it off.
Day 108: July 3:
It may just last the night, or maybe only an hour, but for now brothers are best friends and they’re both so excited for a slumber party!
Day 109: July 4:
We spent the Fourth super low-key and it was perfect! We are so lucky to have amazing neighbors! Best part is they actually put up with us and even better, their kids like our kids
Day 110: July 5:
What do you do after spending an entire day with your neighbors? You wake up and spend the entire next day with them on their water slide! My kids would choose this water slide over anything!
Day 111: July 6:
Last night I tucked my Oliver in, kissed him goodnight and he hugged me and said “goodbye daddy.” So, I guess I won’t be sleeping until he moves out.
Day 112: July 7:
Things I have tried during Covid Quarantine to ensure better sleep:
–threats to call Santa
–earlier bed time
–later bed time
–threats of violence against stuffed animals
Times either of my children have slept through the night as a result:
Day 113: July 8:
He thought I wouldn’t dunk on him… let alone actually dunk HIM!
Day 114: July 9:
We made it to Cape Cod. I have not taken a REAL vacation in years. This was the first time I actually tried to shut down from work in ages (granted I didn’t do so well considering I conducted virtual teacher interviews from the beach and also called hundreds of families about our distance learning survey), but that’s me… I love what I do… and I don’t ever take a break from it!
Day 115: July 10:
This is what family vacation is all about. Forget Corona, forget quarantine and hand sanitizer. Family vacations are all about getting a KING SIZE BED for mom and dad and having the kids sleep in it. Relinquishing an amazingly comfortable mattress and 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets for a pull out sofa bed is parenting at its finest!
Day 116: July 11
The family… sans masks… sans tears… just happy to be out of the GD house!
Day 117: July 12:
Screw you CORONA! We still livin’ our best life!
Puffy said it best:
“Don’t push us, cause we’re close to the, edge We’re tryin’, not to lose our heads, a-hah hah hah hah…
get the feeling sometime, that make me wonder Why you wanna take us under Why you wanna take us under
I get the feeling sometime, that make me wonder Why you wanna take us under Why you wanna take us under
Can’t nobody take my pride Uh-uh, uh-uh Can’t nobody hold me down, ohh no I got to keep on movin’…”
Day 118: July 13:
If there is a picture that represents our lives in 2020 this is it! All dressed up for a family photo with designer masks! #CapeCodCorona2020
Day 119: July 14:
We are home from the Cape and we spent some time just relaxing today. This quarantine thing has been stressful, scary, unpredictable, calm, insane, all of the above… but most of all, it has been a time to just reconnect with each other. Today we did just that. The boys and I took Buster and Max for a walk. No electronics, no phones, just us. It was as close to perfect as you can get… we were just missing mom.
Day 120: July 15:
Parenting books never prepared me for how much time I’d spend arguing for my kids to get into and then out of the bathtub.
Day 121: July 16:
15 years ago she (Stephanie) said “Yes.” Then we quickly got in line on the Wildwood boardwalk for the Half Blood Prince midnight book release. I read the book all night in the hotel lobby and finished it in the morning on the beach! Such a memorable day… and still… After All This Time, I’m Sirius-ly happy to still be Making Magic with you Stephanie, You’re a Keeper and there is no one else in the world I’d rather be quarantined with than you!
Day 121: July 17:
We’ve been in quarantine for 121 days and my six year old has been talking nonstop for 150 of them!
Day 122: July 18
We’ve tried everything as parents to keep our boys engaged in educational activities, but it’s mid July now… we put together a schedule for the boys to give them some structure during the summer quarantine and I think other parents might find it helpful:
7am-7pm: Unsupervised screentime, with periodic snack time.
Day 123: July 19:
Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to grasp what’s happening right now. I’ve discussed the pandemic and social distancing with both boys. I figured Jax would get it and for the most part he does, but I was surprised how informed Oliver was. He really gets it. He’s now decided to speak 3 inches from my face instead of the normal 1 inch.
Day 124: July 20:
Today while we were out practicing some mask wearing to build up tolerance for Oliver a women with no mask on her or her children screamed at us to take off our masks because were falling for the “hoax.” I won’t put my response here in writing… but WTF?!???
I just don’t get it. The people who refuse to wear a mask they’re almost like those last couple of leaves on the tree right before winter hits. They are so proud of themselves. They must be so excited sitting on the tree thinking we’re definitely gonna make it, we’re gonna make it. That is until all your friends are gone and you’re the last one hanging on for dear life.
Day 125: July 21:
Today while listening to our secretary of education speak about re-opening schools full-time in person, I realized that she has a bookshelf with no books on it. Listening to this woman speak about re-opening schools is like listening to my three-year-old try to explain how to play chess… in Latin. 🙄
Day 126: July 22:
You would think with two dogs and two toddlers one of them would be the first to ruin the new patio…
If you put your money on that you definitely lost. In the category of 2020 just keeps getting worse… I spilled an entire canister of melted citronella wax all over the patio today.
Day 127: July 23:
Today we, painted pictures, went in the pool, completed two puzzles, cooked dinner together and watched a movie. Or, as the boys described it to mommy when she got home from work:
“Buster and Max peed on the floor and dad yelled at us two times.”
Day 128: July 24
The boys are so used to staying in the house that they think pants are just optional at this point. God forbid I tell them we need to actually wear said pants when it’s time to go out…
Day 129: July 25:
Just heard from downstairs:
Jax: “Oliver USE YOUR FORCEFIELD…”
Oliver: “ OWWWWWWWWWWWW!” Followed by screaming…
Day 130: July 26:
Today, I decided to take the filter and pump apart to clean it, since the water was a bit cloudy the past week.
After dissembling the filter… I am pretty sure I discovered where Coronavirus started.
Day 131: July 27:
Today while playing with his stuffed animals Jax told me he wants to be a dad one day.
My response: “Have you seen the shit I put up with?!!??”
Day 132: July 28:
Jackson complained this morning because his breakfast was not ready fr him when he came downstairs. I told him to be sure to leave his negative review on Yelp! and also, I don’t care!
Day 133: July 29:
My legs are in the best shape since I was running track in college. I think I have an idea for an exercise video for parents where all the lunges are just going around the house picking up juice box straws and wrappers.
Day July 30:
Steph is at work and I had a two hour meeting this afternoon that was extremely important about reopening the schools. Jackson and Oliver had to fend for themselves the entire time and they didn’t fight once in the playroom.
I heard them talking and giggling I couldn’t figure out what they were doing. They didn’t pick up their iPads or put the TV on once. When I was done they told me to come out of my office bc they had a surprise for me.
And when your two kids ask you to sit for a tea part (with wine glasses for the adult) you sit together the tea party.
Day: July 31:
… the end of the fourth month brings us right back where we were four-plus months ago, the same place almost every parent is in… what do we do with our kids… our children… our babies…
I often imagined the sort of family vacations I’d have when and if I was ever lucky enough to become a father. They were based on the trips I took as a young boy, whether it be to the Cape with my parents or Wildwood with my grandparents, I imagined walking along the beach with my children and finding seashells and maybe even taking the tramcar up and down the boardwalk. It would be peaceful and quiet, my wife and I hand in hand, my children smiling and taking in the beautiful ocean views.
Well, since those days, I’ve become a husband to a beautiful woman and have two fantastic children. We’ve been away together, both to the cape and wildwood, we’ve flown to Aruba and been to a friends house in FL. We’ve been away quite a bit and it’s always so amazing, but this year… we’ll…
We decided to stay in a beautiful historic resort… the kids were in awe when we pulled up, “dad are staying in a castle!!??” It seemed so perfect. What could possibly go wrong?
For one thing, the resort was surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and has three pools… sounds great until you realize that my youngest would rather eat vegetables than go near water, which wouldn’t have been a problem if my other son wasn’t such an avid water-sport enthusiast, hurling himself into any pool or lake with all the foresight of a Labrador going after a stick, leaving his younger brother in tears far behind on land.
There’s always the beach though, right? Mom and dad decided to take the clan to a boat launch that would take us across the Atlantic and over to a beautiful island for the day. We’re all packed up and it takes us ten minutes to get everything out of the car (coolers, beach bags slung over our shoulders and chairs being dragged out of the trunk). We are finally get everybody ready, but of course everyone now needs to go to the bathroom. After what seems like hours and hundreds of pounds of supplies we finally walk down to the pier only to see the captain untieing his boat from the dock tie and Capt Crunch tells us he’s sorry but he’s not doing any more boat trips today.
Yes we called ahead. Yes, we stopped at the store first to make a reservation, yes the woman at the desk gave me the address for the boat and yes she told me that it runs all day and night. Yet, somehow after got down to the pier got unpacked walked all the way down to the pier with two kids and 40 bags and the guy said he’s not doing any more trips today.
So through tears we drag the kids back to the car after failing our oldest who’s body has now become Gumby like. He apparently has wanted to go on a boat his, “entire life”, since he “was like three.” We have now become enemies number 1 and 2. After what seems like all the tears in both their bodies had run their course we finally get back to the hotel l. We then start the process over and get completely packed up to walk down to the private beach at the hotel… we have all our NEW bags packed up and even Oliver is happily making his way down.
We take two steps out of the hotel and Jackson informs us he has to freaking POOP! On a dime we stop, turn face and start walking into the hotel, both silent, afraid the other might snap! Father and son get all the way into the hotel and son informs dad he doesn’t need to go to the bathroom anymore, and now wants to use this opportunity to tell me all about how he doesn’t want to go to the beach anymore.
This can’t get any worse right? As Jax and I are getting ready to walk out Steph and Oliver walk back inside because Oliver has to take a crap now. It’s now 2:00pm, we left the house at 10:00am to go to the beach and we still haven’t gotten to any beach, no sand, no water… nothing. Just toilets and tears. (Eventually we made it to the beach, although according to Staph, the prime sun had already passed us by). 🙄
Luckily there was enough peanut butter bagels and apple juice for the boys and more than enough sun for mom. While the whole trip seemed like the plot of a movie staring Clark Griswold, there’s always enough fun and laughs to keep things interesting.
I still vividly remember the trips to Wildwood with Nan and Pop and would consider then some of the best times of my life. I’m confident that Jax and Ollie will always remember the feeling of family and love on their trips they take with us. I guess you could say whether it be a National Lampoon style vacation or not, having time away with family is the best kind of vacation. .
But guess what? Maybe one day Jax will claim to vividly recall this family vacation and say,. “Remember the summer when you wouldn’t let us go on a boat!???” Maybe, sighing nostalgically on his own yacht, he’ll tell us it was, “the best summer vacation he’d ever had!”