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Even though my kids are about to drive me crazy with their boundless energy and BB guns, summer is still my favorite time of the year.

For the past dozen years, our summer vacations have developed into a fairly predictable pattern.

The easiest way for me to explain summer in Zichville is to divide it into parts.

Once school is out, the household, except for my husband, Ron, takes on a slower-pace as we relish what is best described as Free-form June.

That first week is about enjoying life with no alarm clocks or homework. The boys do their best to spend as much time as possible at the neighborhood pool, making me forever grateful to the person who invented spray-on sunscreen.

I didn’t get off to the best start back in June, when Ron woke me up in the wee hours of the morning on the first day of summer vacation. He had driven to Maryland to spend the day chasing bass but didn’t realize his Maryland fishing license had expired. Wal-Mart wasn’t open yet, so he called me in desperation and talked me through the steps to get a license on the Internet. It was one of those surreal moments when my life resembles a TV sitcom starring animated characters instead of real people.

Of course, our relaxation and spontaneous fun is delayed if it happens to be a summer in which Uncle Sam has sent us packing. But since this wasn’t a "moving summer," I’ll skip that part.

July always kicks off with a bang that marks the second part of our summer adventures. That bang comes in the form of fireworks at the Fourth of July Pig Pick’n, hosted by my family in North Carolina. The boys and I spend a week enjoying my mother’s cooking and sitting on my parents’ front porch, visiting with uncles, aunts and cousins. Our dog, Glory, enjoys her chance to be a farm doggie again.

After rolling around in barn dirt all week, Glory needs a good bath before we can load her up in the car to head home again. Once we get there, she mopes around the house for a while, letting us all know just how much she misses the freedom of life in the country.

We usually squeeze in a trip to Ocean City , Md., before July is over. This summer, Ron couldn’t take time off from work, so I braved it on my own and somehow managed to get us there and back. It just took a few hours longer than usual.

The third and final part of summer sneaks up on us every year and goes by the name of August Doldrums. No longer eager to spend every moment at the pool, the boys come up with creative and sometimes dangerous ways to entertain themselves at home.

The energy needed to pack up the boys for a Ronless vacation at the beach is nothing compared with what it takes for me to survive August in Zichville.

Will Jimmy try to make homemade fireworks again today? Perhaps Tommy will invite a dozen of his hungry friends over to play Wii in our living room.

I can count on Ronnie having to be at football practice tonight from 6 until 8 p.m. and every weeknight until school starts. Sitting on the sidelines during practice is the only chance I have to stop and catch my breath all day.

Jimmy, Tommy and Ronnie have been such a handful this week that I almost wished for the school year to start early. But then I remembered that Jimmy is going to be in high school, surrounded by big kids who drive and shave.

The real fireworks are just beginning.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 17 years and currently lives in Springfield, Virginia. You may E-mail her at or by visiting her website at

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