Finding Our Summer Groove + “The One That Got Away” by Leigh Himes


I know, it’s not officially summer yet. In the US, we have to wait for the sun to reach its northernmost point on the equator (that will happen in 2016 on June 20th).

But really, we all know that summer starts on Memorial Day (at least in the US), no matter when the summer solstice falls. That happened last Monday.

But also, school is out. The girls’ last day was LAST Wednesday. We’ve had about a week and a half of ‘summer.’

I think we’re starting to figure out the rhythm and machinations of our summer.

In other words, the groove of summer 2016 is coming together.

Libby, my older daughter (can I say she’s 12? She’ll be 13 next week, but I kinda want to keep her 12 as long as possible) would be happy to sit back and do very little, to sleep in and play all day. Instead she chose to swim on two teams this summer. That means two practices on most days. Two sets of meets, which luckily-amazingly- do not conflict.

She’s my girl who likes unstructured life. And she’s chosen a summer with constraints.

She’s getting up at 6:15 all week for morning practice. Coming home, arguing with me over chores. Hanging with her friends. Playing with, and getting aggravated with, her sister. And then going back to practice around 6:00 in the evening.

She’s amazing me with it all. She’s already looking stronger. Plus she’s got that great tan going on, giving her that summer glow. She’s sleeping the sleep of the exhausted, and eating lots of fruits and good stuff.

And then Katy, my younger girl. She craves structure and schedule, as do many people with special needs. For her, the beginning of this summer is unfettered with schedules. This is tough for her. For now, she’s creating her own fun. She makes up games and lets her imagination run wild. I watch her run and spin, create imaginary worlds  with her dolls and toy snakes (she LOVES snakes), and I smile.

They’re so different, my two girls. Not just because one is typical while the other has Down syndrome. One’s dark (dark hair, her dad’s olive complexion), one’s light (lighter hair, my lighter complexion). One craves lazy days unencumbered, so when she requested more swimming (another team), I let her have it. The other craves structure, so, for the month of June, she’ll have very little. She will learn to live with a lesser schedule.

For me, I’ll skate between the two extremes. I have work (from home) that has to get done, plus driving to and from swim practices and meets. But those other, in between times, I’m planning very little. We’ll let the weather and our moods decide.

That means the pool for fun whenever. The library on a whim. The zoo, the water park, the nature preserve. Strawberry picking. A day hike. A trip to the beach at the local lake.

On the evenings when we’re home we’ll try to eat outside. We’ll turn the t.v. off more and catch some fireflies. We’ll listen to music and talk.

We’ll follow a schedule when necessary. But we’ll also laugh and giggle and let go.

Because it’s summer. And that’s what makes it magical.

Now onto the second part of my post: My review of Leigh Himes’s  The One That Got Away.

What if you had just gone out with that one guy? How different could your life REALLY be?

The Premise

Abbey Lahey lives a frazzled life. Working as a publicist, she’s the mother to two young children and the wife of a landscaper whose business died when the economy tanked. She needs time to exercise and a cleaning lady and . . . well, she needs a break.

And she gets it.

After falling from the escalator at Nordstrom, Abbey wakes up married to that one hot guy that she said no to for a date years ago. Instead of being Abbey Lahey, she’s Abbey van Holt, wife of congressional candidate Alex van Holt. Old money rich, living in a lavish penthouse, building her dream house. Perfect body, perfect smile.

But is the perfect life really that perfect? Is the grass really greener on the other side of the Main Line?

My Thoughts

I love a good alternate reality story. The problem is it’s easy for them to be predictable.

The One That Got Away is predictable.

That’s not a bad thing, though. When I get on an airplane, I know where it’s supposed to go. When I land in Aruba, I knew where I was going, and I’m still going to have a fabulous time!

As a frazzled mother, I understand Abbey. I’ve also been that woman who wondered “what if?” But I’ve never had a chance to check out that other time line.

As Abbey van Holt, Abbey finds that she’s turned into someone she doesn’t like that much just to survive in her family. I liked the look at the perfect life with Abbey Lahey trying to make it work. I like that Abbey Lahey missed her more fun kids, her father-in-law, and real food.

The perfect life seems like hard work. A different sort of hard work from Abbey Lahey’s life.

Abbey is a fun, interesting character, attempting to get over her anger and find her fun again. I get her; I feel the same way a lot of days. It’s interesting to imagine the other side, but also to realize that they work just as hard on different things. And they miss out out on all the fun!

So, as predictable as the ending is, Abbey’s journey is lots of fun. This is the PERFECT beach read–especially if your headed for the Jersey Shore. Philadelphia and its Main Line aren’t too far from there!

In all my working class wisdom, I give The One That Got Away 3 stars. What a fun story, and a great debut for Himes.


2 thoughts on “Finding Our Summer Groove + “The One That Got Away” by Leigh Himes

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