What can I tell you, gentle readers? I feel like I have a legitimate excuse for not blogging more often. Now that it’s summer vacation and my kids are always around, we have a rule that there can be no screen entertainment /recreation between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. For some reason this applies to me too. Well, it made sense, initially, for it to apply to me too, since I could use some reduction in screen time, I guess, but that was before it became clear that four screens plus four kids means there’s no screen for Mommy ever. I think the new rule should be that Mommy gets the use of all screens between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the kids have to go outside and play and let Mommy write her blogs and watch her Netflix disc (which is starting on its fifth week sitting on top of the entertainment center—shh, don’t tell my husband; he wants to drop the disc service and just do streaming online, but sometimes I want to watch something that’s not streaming, and someday I’m going to have time to do so) and not play Monopoly or pretend to be a puppy or make lunch or anything. Golly, I hate making lunch. I dislike making lunches in the morning during the school year, but at least it’s all over with before 8 a.m. No more meal preparation until dinner. I rather think that three of the four children can make their own stupid lunch, and usually they do, but today everyone wanted me to make them a sandwich. I don’t even like to make myself a sandwich, unless it’s peanut butter and jelly. I don’t know why all other sandwich types weary me so.

That, dear internet, is my jolly excuse for not blogging more often. Not enough screen time. Also, way too much time reading. (The Kindle does not count as a screen. Says moi.)

We made a deal with the older kids that they could earn spending money for vacation by reading seven books before the end of August (when we leave for California). At the time it seemed like a reasonable goal (I mean, they have to fill the hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. somehow, and Princess Zurg doesn’t even go outside, ever), but as of right now, it’s not looking good for either of them. Five books is starting to seem much more reasonable. And yet equally unattainable. So I guess it doesn’t matter.

Maybe I will waive some of the book requirements in exchange for them letting me use the screen sometimes.

It is rather a challenge keeping Elvis occupied during the day. His current obsession is Monopoly. Between us and my mother-in-law we have about 65 versions of Monopoly, and he wants to play all of them. After a certain point I had to lay down the law and said I would only play one game of Monopoly per day. I would play as many different other games with him as he wanted, but Monopoly only once per day. Here’s the thing about Monopoly: it is a long, boring-ass game. Aside from that, it is a delightful American pastime. But it strikes me now that I haven’t played a game of Monopoly with Elvis for several days now. Apparently he is content to play Monopoly with Mister Bubby. Note: he played with Mister Bubby before, but he would also play with me. He would also play by himself. Dude’s crazy about the Monopoly. But whatever. I’m just being grateful. If I never play another game of Monopoly as long as I live—ah, it’s too lovely to contemplate. Perhaps he hasn’t asked me to play because this week has been so busy, and he did spend one day with his grandma (playing NASCAR Monopoly, among other things). Perhaps he’s picked up on how much I detest the game. It seems an unlikely reason for him to stop demanding that I play with him—it would certainly be the first time he ever stopped doing something just because it irritated me. But who knows?

I like games of chance and occasionally games of skill, but generally, I dislike games of strategy. I find them stressful. I know I would never survive out in the wild on my own. Not only am I weak, but I’m not nearly as smart as I ought to be.

Monopoly is largely a game of chance, and not so much a game of strategy, but I dislike it mainly because, for a game of chance, it sure takes a hellafreaking lot of time. At least it doesn’t stress me out. You know what game stresses me out? Risk. I hate that game. We used to play it a lot as a family when I was growing up. I have fond memories of it, because I only remember the part about us all being together and laughing and crap. I don’t have vivid memories of how stressful it was to play. Or at least I don’t allow that memory to spoil the pleasant memories. I do allow it to dissuade me from playing Risk, except when my family makes me play it because it’s tradition and I love my family and I would feel left out if they played without me. I’d be less stressed, but I’d feel left out. I’m a complicated person.

Do I hate to lose? No, I don’t hate to lose. I don’t even mind it. At all. It’s just a game, you know? I hate losing at real-life stuff, but games I don’t mind losing. But I don’t like to be stressed out while I’m losing, especially when I’m supposed to be doing something diverting. Diversion should not be stressful, in my opinion. That’s one reason why I don’t like amusement parks.

We will be doing three days of amusement parks in California. I am not looking forward to it.

Will you see me again in July, gentle readers? Only time will tell. Talk about edge-of-your seat blog-reading. I’m killing you, Smalls! Happy belated Bastille Day, my friends. (There isn’t really another holiday coming up soon, unless one of you is having a birthday. Let me know.)