The summer has raced by this year - it's hard to believe we're nearly midway through August and about to head back to the UK for an end-of-summer holiday. Compared to last year, when the weeks seemed to drag, only punctuated by the once-a-week music class for the boys which I looked forward to more than they did, this summer has been a whirlwind of activity, what with summer camp, playdates, swimming lessons and weekend day-trips.
The Littleboys' swimming has improved enormously thanks to the scorching heat that has sent us scuttling to the pool most afternoons. Littleboy 1 is now swimming, if not like a fish, then like a pretty confident tadpole. He swims underwater with goggles, can jump off the pool diving board and swim to the edge, and spent yesterday bodysurfing the waves off Fire Island. Littleboy 2, a little more cautious by nature, loves swimming in my arms but is too scared as yet to let go. He spends beach days meticulously collecting sand and shells and making 'pancakes' - his name for mud pies and sandcastles.
Meanwhile my own swimming has also improved thanks to those evenings ploughing up and down the pool lanes - a man swimming with his young son even complimented me on my crawl the other day. (I wondered if he was actually flirting, because my swimming is not that great, although after watching him swim realised that he was just a really bad swimmer and probably did admire my very mediocre strokes....) The Doctor has similarly improved his own pool stamina and also perfected his barbecuing skills - he makes a mean grilled corn and ribs, to rival that of any American cook.
I've really come around to the idea of summer camp this year - last year, you may remember I was mystified by the whole thing, still believing it involved log cabins and weeks away from home. (This, I have subsequently learned, is called Sleepaway Camp, and usually takes place somewhere upstate or in New England). The boys head off in their swimwear every day and are treated to a morning of creative craft-making combined with outdoor activity and water play that tires them out until, ooh, at least 3pm, at which point I must do something else with them. The holidays are so long here, and the weather is good enough to be outdoors, that summer camp turns out to be a simply brilliant idea, and one that I would love to replicate in the UK.
What else have I learnt about August on Long Island?
That when people say they are 'headed out East' for vacation, they mean the Hamptons, not a trip to Asia.
And if they say they are headed for the Shore, this means the Jersey Shore (you never refer to it as New Jersey). These appear to be the two most favoured holiday destinations - and there is no question that anyone will ever go abroad (well, why would they need to?).
If you go on a playdate to someone else's house, take mosquito repellent. Everyone's gardens are a hotbed of insect life (including our own) and I only need to be outside for two seconds to be eaten alive. Weirdly, this doesn't seem to affect the people actually hosting the playdates.
Like last August, there is absolutely nothing on the TV - except for something called the Real Housewives of DC, which started last week and is true car-crash reality TV*. So it's a good thing we have a subscription to the New York Times and a box set of The Sopranos handy.
Sand gets everywhere. I keep finding it around the house; in beds, on the floor, in the Littleboys' hair. The car is a mess of sand and suncream-y finger marks on the windows. This is one downside of living by the sea.
In a real New York summer, you really don't need anything but shorts, t-shirts and swimwear. So it's going to be quite a change, heading to England and Wales next week, and having to pack jeans and jumpers along with our summer clothes.....I wonder what the Littleboys will make of it?
*Mothership has quite rightly reminded me that Mad Men has started. Definitely the best thing on TV in the US; I only wish it ran all year.