Oh, Summer…

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It’s the “boredom buster” part of summer… I have to say, I LOVE that I have a 5 year old. She can do so much this summer and it has been wonderful to have her out-and-about for most of the summer. Gone are the long, long days of being at home with mom or running around to many places that mom had/wanted to go to prepare for the upcoming school year.

To put things into perspective…

Summer 2008, she was about 16 months old. She & I drove 1450 miles across the country for my new job. My husband stayed behind to stay at his job while our house was on the market. Once I arrived at our new home/my new job, she spent the majority of her time with me in my office before school started. Then she spent her days at daycare, or with me… at home, at school/my office… it was fine and she was little, but I felt bad that she had to play and learn to entertain herself (to some extent) while I worked.

Summer 2009, we returned to our original ‘home’ because the house didn’t sell and I had a job offer here that was much closer to home than where I’d previously worked (before the 2008 move)… Anyhow, we got back in time to find out that our refrigerator died. Seriously. You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal, go buy another one!” When my husband bought this house in the early 2000s, “bisque” and “almond” were the popular colors. Not so in 2009! He didn’t want to go with a different color since it wouldn’t match our stove… so wait, wait, wait we did. On the positive side, it’s amazing how much weight you can lose when you can only buy/store things in a cooler and you have to keep adding ice (from the gas station) to the cooler! She my sweetheart was not quite 2 and 1/2, she had spent a whole school year without her daddy, and now we were back to our old home. That summer, I didn’t get the new job offer until August, so things were in flux for much of the summer… it was pretty stressful.

Summer 2010

Our now 3 year old enjoyed a week in Orlando, FL with mom, dad, and grandparents. We took her to Disney, she freaked out met the “Princesses” and went on some rides… It was a good June. Then came terrible news. My school was downsizing and I was being RIF’ed. In a tiny, Private school where no one else wanted to teach the grades that I was teaching. I was stunned. I was freaked OUT. I didn’t make a lot of money but it was just enough to help with our expenses with our house, my student loans, our daughter’s daycare… I liked my job, I had a good school year (not easy, but good), I brought new ideas/enthusiasm, and I loved that my daughter was just down the hall from my classroom. I didn’t want to get a different job. I liked having summers where I could work from home and create my own schedule. (No truly good teacher has his/her summer “off”… They are constantly thinking about things for the upcoming year. It’s genetic. We can’t turn it off!)

Well, I’ll spare the details, but I ended up getting my job back but the dynamic at school has never quite been the same. That’s a story for another time!

So the happy-Disney-summer turned freak-out-horrible summer turned relax-I-have-a-job-again summer meant a lot of changes for me. I spent time at school because I switched classrooms. Once again, she spent a LOT of time in my classroom with me because, Thank God, I didn’t have to put her in/pay for daycare in the summer!

Summer 2011

She was now 4 and could sign up for some Park and Rec classes. We did Mommy-and-Me swimming lessons… with a bunch of the under-1 crowd. Oh well, she enjoyed it. She & I have been swimming together since our great migration in the summer of 2008, so she loved the water already. She did soccer lessons, t-ball lessons, and “Friday Fun in the Park” days — an hour of themed games (edible creations, Curious George, etc).

We did FOUR (count ’em!) Vacation Bible Schools. The first week that school was out, we did the evening one at our own church (just participated, didn’t have to help/lead anything) and we went to the one at the church that is a ministry partner with the school where I teach. I taught the 3rd/4th grade class for that VBS. (Loved it!) Mid-July, we drove an hour to/from my former school so I could once again help lead part of the VBS. (Loved it — loved seeing all the old faces!) A week or so later, we repeated the second VBS but this time it was at the school location instead of the church’s location. I helped with crafts at that one. By this point in the summer (beg. of August) my little girl was up to her eyeballs in new Park and Rec experiences and doing VBS. But there were some long, long days of being at home with mom and/or being in my classroom with me.

Summer 2012

A coworker teaches summer school for the public school district each summer. She mentioned that they have summer school classes for kids going into Kindergarten. Who knew?? So I signed up my daughter for that because the girl loves, loves, loves all things “school” (Gee, I wonder why!?!)

Since we live in an older neighborhood with a corner lot and not much no backyard, I decided that I needed to sign her up for some Park and Rec activities throughout the summer. She had taken swimming lessons throughout the school year, so I knew she’d like that again. She’s also done dance lessons since she was 2.5 years old, but I thought we’d try a Mommy-and-Me tap class through P&R instead. I’ve NEVER done tap in my life, so I thought it’d be fun! I also signed her up for t-ball with her best friend (who, coincidentally, has a mom who teaches at my school…) and for karate. Then I thought about the fact that one of her grandmas loved tennis and was really good at it — so I signed her up for 4 weeks (twice a week) of tennis lessons. Crazy mother, line one.

She spent the first week of summer with my family. Mostly because I had teacher meetings that week and because it’s tradition now. She’s been staying with my family in May or June for a week since she was a year old. She loves it and looks forward to it. She loves hanging out with her uncle, with her boy cousins, with her grandparents… she gets shuttled back and forth among relatives and loves every moment of it. Every day is different and it’s just the way she likes it!

When she got back home, summer school started. 8:30 a.m. We live a few blocks from the school so we would walk or she’d bike and I’d walk. Somedays she got a ride because I would then drive over to my school to work in my classroom while she was in summer school. Other days, I’d walk back home and just spend hours organizing, cleaning, or reading. Ahhh. I had to pick her up at 11 a.m. instead of 11:30 because we had to drive over to the pool for her 11:30 swimming lessons with Tom. Oh, how she loves Tom. He was her swim instructor in the spring as well.

Then came the rest of the fun. Mondays, acrobatics in the evenings. Tuesdays — oh, Lord, Tuesdays! School, swimming, t-ball, tennis, tap dancing! Exhausting! But it made the rest of the week not seem so bad! Ha ha ha… Wednesday was karate. Thursdays was tennis again. Fridays we were done once swimming lessons were over at noon. Ahhhh.

Two weeks of that schedule and then it was the 4th of July week already. We drove her to my in-law’s house and she spent the week there with them and her girl cousin. She loves it. It’s just different. More time outside (they don’t have a lot of neighbors). Not as much shuttling around… actually, not any shuttling around. Just time with her grandparents, aunt, and cousin. They went to different things around their small town, even the fireworks, and she made some good memories.

Now I feel like maybe I’ve created a hustle-and-bustle ‘monster’ because I don’t think she really knew what to do with herself. It was maybe too calm and too relaxing. Yikes — I hope she can actually appreciate times like that!

Once she was back home, it was more of the same… school, swimming, sports. Rinse, repeat. Two more weeks flew by. I was busy at school, painting my classroom while she was at her school. Then all the school and sports were done. She did have VBS last week. I taught a group of 3rd-4th graders again (they were AWESOME!) and she loved her class. So our mornings were taken care of. We found things to do in the afternoons too. Not as crazy and busy as before but we still found things to do. 

Then there is this week. Nothing planned. No place to go and no schedule to follow. Sounds great except that it’s not. I know that people often daydream about retirement and having no place that they “have” to be and no schedule that they “have” to keep. But there is a certain loneliness and emptiness once all the activity stops. It’s the “empty nest” of our summer and we weren’t sure what to do with ourselves.

Poor girl was literally so ‘bored’ yesterday that she asked to call my mom so she’d have someone new to talk to. (Nice!) She didn’t talk long and then decided to sweep the kitchen. (I don’t understand her either!) After about 30 seconds of that, she spotted her Barbies and began playing with them while I finished sweeping and talked to my mom at the same time on the phone.

As much as she says she doesn’t like these ‘down’ times… I think she needs them. She’s spent so much of her summers having to entertain herself for at least short periods of time that she’s really GOOD at it. She can play Barbies for hours; she does all the voices, makes up all the names, etc. Then she will get out her art supplies or her play-dough or even a pencil and paper. Yesterday she found some old Hooked-On-Phonics workbooks that my dad had found at a yard sale and given to me. I forgot we even had them. She said, “Mom, I think we should work on these.” I went through the first workbook with her (letters, rhymes, sounds) and she aced it. She decided at that point that she’d just sit at the table and start coloring in the letters on the pages. Later, I found that she’d gotten into some of my teaching items. On the floor was a blank piece of paper that she’d written (copied) “Grades” on it. Wow-za!

Our new ‘game’ this summer is “Slug Bug”. You know the one, right? You see a VW Beetle car, call out the color and then yell “Slug Bug! No backs!” Well, it loses something when it’s just mom and a 5 year in the vehicle. But we still have fun. We try to see which one of us can spot more “slug bugs” during the day as we travel around town. I get more than she does, but she’s getting pretty good. In all our nerdy fashion, however, she told me that we should keep track of how many we see each day. I told her that we’ll make a chart and we’ll also graph what colors they are so we won’t forget!

We have a 2002 Honda CR-V. Some time ago, she decided that our Blue CRV is named “Isabella”. No clue where she got that name, but that is the vehicle’s name. On the way to/from school, she’d have ‘conversations’ with Isabella. Isn’t her hair nice today? Mom, do you like the skirt that Isabella is wearing? The creativity never stops. This summer she has decided that whenever she sees a CRV of a similar era (not the new, sleeker ones!), it must be part of Isabella’s family. Here are the rules — if it is another blue one, it is Isabella’s brother/sister (she’ll let you know by telling you their name); if it is a silver one, it is Isabella’s grandparent (again, she’ll tell you the name); if it is a red/maroon one, it is Isabella’s father; if it is a white,gray, or any other color, it is either Isabella’s mom or aunt. Seriously. This kid amazes me and kind of scares me with how systematically her mind works.

Next week, btw, is Lego Camp in the afternoons. Much to her delight, there will be no more unscheduled activities like the children’s museum or going swimming… it will be structured activity… and something new. Thank you, Groupon.





The sweetest thing…

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I wanted to share part of the email I wrote to Laurette Willis, creator of “Praise Moves”…

The Praise Moves PM program was so different for me. The stretches felt great — not too hard for me to do/hold — and hearing the Word of God and the positive Christian messages made a HUGE difference for me. This was just the extra “dose” of God’s Word that I’ve been searching for in my daily routine this summer. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased some foam mats and covered our entire basement (concrete) floor with them so that I would have plenty of room to do the workout. My 5 year old daughter (who is tall and lanky…and can stretch in a million directions… and LOVES the Lord with all her heart, mind, and soul!) asked to do the PM workout with me. She LOVES it too. She asks me every evening if we can do our “Jesus stretches”. How sweet is that for a mother’s heart to hear??