So we are saying goodbye to summer, almost. One last road trip to see family, a few more days to sleep in, the lazy trips to the park are winding down. I find in times of transition my kids love rituals to help them reflect and then welcome the next season before us. Some times they are intentional, sometimes they unfold on their own.
We laid in bed last night (all of us, I don't know how this always happens), talking about this, that and the other. I asked them what they will miss about summer.
Lucy: "Dress up all day!"
Jack: "Hanging out with my family."
Josiah: "The pool will be closed."
"I'll miss not having to go anywhere." I said.
"Yeah." they chimed in.
Out with the old and in with the new. After a goodbye, there is almost always a hello.
Hello cool new shoes for school, hello new teachers, hello occasional school cafeteria lunch full that kids like for some reason beyond me, hello old friends...
What are you saying goodbye and hello to? Ask your kids, I bet they have plenty to say on the subject. As always, feel free to share in the comments.
I'm writing to you from a very kid-friendly hotel in New York City where I'm trying out my theories of quality time vs. quantity time with Madeleine and Carter. We agreed before my latest twelve day trip to Africa that quality time for us would look like an overnight at the beach before I left and an overnight trip to New York when I got back. I forgot to factor in the exhausting four hour car rides when deciding to test just how far quality time will take you! Note to self.
At this juncture--since I'm really tired from traveling and a bit irritated with everyday kid stuff --why does Madeleine have a Sharpie tattoo, for example, and when did Carter start the systematic tormenting of his lawyerly sister with nonsensical arguments?--I'm wondering if there's any quality time at all if you don't have some quantity time as a foundation to spring from. To say I'm burning the candle on both ends is putting it mildly.
Despite the hurdle of trying to move mountains, I think we're all learning exactly what it takes to feel connected--whether the together time is abundant and mundane or highly-focused and exciting. Here are my thoughts so far for your review:
The time we spend together is witnessed by the memories we create. I thought creating exciting adventures would put something grand in the memory bank, and while we've certainly succeeded on that front, my kids are telling me they need very regular boring memories, too. Like mom making a special lunch or taking them to the park every single day. I'll be keeping this in mind when we make plans together for the fall.
Being cheerful and happy to be together trumps everything every time. More than where we are, my kids kids are focusing on how we are. Me crabby because they've been arguing for an hour over whether Carter accurately remembers coming to New York (all the way from DC) for a field trip in first grade (oh the insanity of it all!) makes more of an impression than the Empire State Building. I hate to say it, but mom's mood does matter and so does the kids'. Building conditions for harmonious interactions might be the secret ingredient whether we're spending fifty hours together or one.
Bringing your heart to the mix really does make a difference. You can run your house like clockwork or be the most exciting mom on the block but none of it matters if your kids don't deep down understand your heart is right there with them. We can go through the motions (and granted, the motions do matter) but what stays with any human being is the presence of mind, heart and soul in every interaction we choose. I'm thinking about this as we finish up our little string of exciting reconnecting times and move into more of an everyday mode as school starts soon. My kids need me and I need them--no matter what kind of time we're able to spend together--and I'm hopeful that understanding comes across in the months to come in everything that I do.
Any lingering thoughts on quantity or quality time? Here's your chance to have your time in the comments below.
Jack has been laying some kid wisdom on us lately. Sometimes it comes at the most random moments, like while eating cereal or from the back seat while I drive. Either way, I'm definitely taking notes.
On why we should plant a tree in the backyard.
1."It would keep us cool because you know how hot it gets."
2."It's good for the earth."
3."We would have something to sit under."
4."Then we would have a base for tag."
On how me managed to slide down the enormous slide at the pool.
1."First I tried to breathe. Take a big breath."
2."Then I believed in myself really hard."
3."Then I just did it, even if you are a little scared."
Are your kids sharing any bits of wisdom these days? Kid wisdom is the best. We would love to hear some more in the comments.
There is a common occurrence in our family. I write endless stories on the Internet about how crazy my children are and then I take them out in public where they behave perfectly. Okay, not always perfectly but tolerably well and certainly not with the breadth of evilness whereby they operate in the comfort of their own home. I constantly hear "I don't know what you are talking about with these children. They are a delight." My mother reminds me that I would rather have them misbehave with me than to do something really horrible out in public.
My friend has a similar problem with one of her two boys. Just last month Q put an entire container of sausage gravy into the dryer. His ready-to-pop-with-baby-number-three mother was not amused. I'm pretty sure dad had to come home from work early to clean up the mess and to, shall we say, save a life of one or to save the sanity of another.
Having met his mama through work, Sunday was the first day I got to meet these children of hers that I know through the Internet, Facebook and lengthy end-of-my-rope text messages.
And might I say, I have absolutely no idea what she is complaining about with this child. He is absolutely delightful and a perfect angel.
We've been soaking up lots of nature goodness lately. We found this little guy on a trip to the beach. Josiah quickly sketched a picture in the sand.
Yesterday we spent a good part of the day at the river, hopping rocks and swimming. The end of the week calls for picking blueberries, raspberries if we are lucky. Some of our best memories are filled with nature.
What nature are you lovin' this summer?
Ethan: Simon says 'stand up.'
Ethan: I said 'Simon SAYS!'
K: Yes, Ethan.
Ethan: Mom, he is NOT doing what I say!
K: I'm sorry, Ethan. But if we are going to get technical, he can't do what you say.
Ethan: MOM!! I am playing 'Simon Says' so Mason is supposed to do what I say.
K: In theory you are exactly right.
Ethan: Not in theory, Mom. For real he is supposed to do what I say. I told him to stand up.
K: Ethan, why do you think he isn't doing what you say?
Ethan: Because he can't really stand yet?
Ethan: Because he doesn't understand what I am saying?
K: I imagine that would make playing 'Simon Says' a little complicated.
Ethan: But he is really supposed to do what I say.
K: Where's Nathan?
Ethan: He doesn't do what I say either.
I know exactly how he feels.
Highs and Lows are a long standing tradition at our house. At the dinner table or right before bed we go around and everyone says what the best and worst part of their day was. Sometimes I'm surprised by their answers as to what they really loved or what was hard. It is a great little tool to get inside their heads for just a bit.
At our house it goes something like this:
Josiah's highs are usually connecting times.
Jack can hardly ever come up with a low.
Lucy just keeps listing everything she did. All day long.
Someone decides for Lyra.
We guess for Papa if he isn't there.
So tell me Superfriends, what are your highs and lows for the week? Do tell in the comment section.
Josiah has a knack for finding cool crafts from various places. The penny launcher has to be one of my boy's all time favorites and great for boredom blues. Here is what you'll need:
toilet or paper towel rolls
electrical tape or duct tape
a pen (Josiah insisted you need this to write your name on your launcher so you don't lose it)
Cut the balloon in two. Throw away the bottom half.
Place the top part of the cut balloon over one end of the paper towel roll.
Wrap the electrical tape around the tube to secure the balloon. Cover the entire roll.
Here's what it looks like when it is all finished.
Drop your penny in the bottom, pull back and let her fly!
Jack always likes to show me how much hot air he has after.
Pure launching joy!
Pinching the pennies this summer? Wondering how you are going to make it through the summer with kids at home with no cash for camp or a vacation?
Here are a few ideas to make this summer fun on any budget:
1. Take a pool tour- Can't afford the local pool membership? Ask your friends if you might be able to join them as a guest or use their own pool. The trick is, ask a few friends. I know, it's total mooching but I bet your friends would be happy to relieve you from the heat wave that is summer. If this feels horribly presumptious, suggest a trade. Offer to trade for a meal delivered to their door or babysitting. Exchange pool time while picking up the mail, dog sitting/walking while they travel and wouldn't be using the pool anyway.
2. Invest in popsicles- Go straight to your local price club and buy mass amounts of Flav-or-ice or other kid favorite popsicles. Let your kids eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, well, maybe just for snacks. A lot of snacks. A little water, food coloring and sugar never hurt anyone right? These cheap treats will keep everyone happy and kids will say, "Remember the summer mom let us eat all those popsicles? That was awesome!".
3. Take advantage of the free stuff- Most movie theaters offer a free movie once a week before the regular shows. We pack away a tiny ziploc of candy, juice boxes and buy popcorn at the theater. Any bowlers in the family? Check out the cool program where kids can bowl free for the entire summer.
Most local parks and recreation centers have all kinds of great concerts and programming during the summer, look local.
4. Pick something- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, oh my! Picking fruit and vegetables can be fun and save your grocery bill. There is nothing like being on a farm, grove or patch and picking your food right from the ground, bush or vine. Pick-your-own is a great site to help you find a farm near you.
5. Commune it up- We're all in this together. Gather your friends and gaggle of kids and do the summer together. Create your own at home camp with art activities, slip-n-slide, and afternoon movie showings. Kids will tribe up and parents will delight in the shared company. Prepare a meal together to split and send home for dinner and the day is done. Many hands make light work. It is the village at it's best.
Do you have any ideas for enjoying a thrifty summer? Share them with us in the comments.
I sort of have a black thumb, there might be one tiny shade of dark green but barely. It seems every plant I touch dies. I water too much or not enough, maybe it is just there are too many humans to take care of and other living things get the shaft. The funny part is, I love anything that is in the process of growing. My kids have been asking for quite some time if we could have a garden but since getting the lawn cut is a major challenge, we decided to start small.
I surprised them this weekend with gardening tools and eight hearty petunias.
They decided on the pattern and plan in which they would plant. Let's just say I've grown as a parent because it wasn't even, nor did the patterns match.
Lessons learned so far:
1. Let the kids pick. Kid decisions always invite investment in all forms.
From hauling those plants to the car all the way to clean up, every one will have more interest in the project.
2. Take advantage of teachable moments. (or not) There are about a gazillion science and life lessons associated with growing anything. You can use these opportunities to educate. If you are prone to squeezing lessons out of anything all the time, skip it and just get your hands dirty together and have fun.
3. Have a sprinkler party. This is the perfect time to end with something silly. Keep your regular clothes on and play in the sprinkler with your kids. I promise they will remember it forever.
Have you done any planting with your kids yet? Tell us your gardening tips for kids in the comments. Look for more gardening goodness on Friday when my kids and I set out to explore other families' gardens around town.
Check out our own PBS gardening expert Jamie Durie and all his great advice for gardening together. A very cute expert, I might add. Don't you think?