The Little Joys of Summer

Summer is arriving to India once more. We didn’t think we’d be here for another summer but here we are all the same. Despite the heat and daily temperatures of 30 – 32C, it isn’t technically summer yet. It’s not even technically hot yet, seeing as in a month, temperatures will reach highs of over 40C.

Since we are leaving at the end of the month, lots of prep is going on. We promised the person who bought the dining set that we’d have it varnished for them, so today the person who is working on it took all the chairs, meaning there was nowhere to sit for school time.

So I gave the kids the day off from school, and this is what they did this morning.

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I can’t think of a greater summer joy than sitting in the warm sun, wet from water play, eating a large bowl of ice-cold watermelon.

No More Naps – And My Schedule

Not long ago, I got frustrated with the schedule my kids were on. They were up at a decent time, but then they would nap and not fall asleep until almost 11 p.m., meaning that, even if I had them in bed by 9, they were still awake and playing around, and I’d still be busy instead of having some time off.

Last year Logan pretty much quit napping. Some days I’d make him nap just so I could have a break in the afternoon, but he didn’t really need it any more. Then Lila began to nap less frequently, so I decided to take them off of naps altogether. They were so happy the day I told them they no longer needed to nap! Of course Scarlett still needs a nap, so I put her down in my room while Logan and Lila play in their own room.

Then the kids began taking the skating lessons. Where we used to go to the playground near our house almost daily and then come home early enough for me to cook dinner, we now have to go to the slightly farther (but still walk-able distance) sports park for the classes.

They skate from 5 to 6 p.m. and then do some exercises with the coach for 30 minutes afterwards. While we don’t always stay for the exercises (how long you stay is up to you), most days the kids want to and Scarlett joins them too, so we only get out of the park by 6:30 or so. While we can walk there in 10 minutes (at Scarlett’s pace), going home can take upwards of 15 minutes since it is peak traffic hour and the area is full of construction and bad sidewalks, and I am dragging three tired kids while carrying a heavy bag full of skating gear and water bottles.

By the time we get home it is almost 7 p.m. Everyone is tired and hungry and can’t wait for me to cook. So from the beginning I switched to cooking dinner in the afternoon so that we can eat just as soon as we get in. It takes more planning for me to make dinner before going, but having food ready to feed starving tummies makes it worthwhile.

While we were happy with the skating lessons, it did take a little longer for them to settle into their new schedule of no naps and making it through the day. The first 2 weeks were tough, since the kids were adjusting to a different sleep schedule and more exercise, but now things are settling down.

Changing the schedule has meant moving dinner and bedtime up but that was the plan – to have them actually fall asleep at bedtime so I could have some time to myself. (Tonight I had them in bed by 8 since Logan had gotten up at 6, and he and Lila were asleep within minutes.)

 

Here is a peek at what my schedule looks like right now.

5:50 a.m.  My alarm goes off and I get up for exercise.

6:05 a.m.  I am out the door to the park for either a run or I do some strength training exercises at home.

7:00 a.m.  I get in just as Glad is heading out to the gym. Kids are (hopefully, usually) still sleeping. I shower and dress, then have my coffee and read the newspaper.

7:45 a.m.  If the kids aren’t awake already, I get them up, feed and dress them, pack their snacks for school, put on a load of laundry, eat my own breakfast, clear the table, stop a fight or two, maybe tidy up a little, and make sure they are ready to go by the time daddy is.

9:15 a.m.  Kids are gone to school with daddy. I find things to keep Scarlett busy as I clean and tidy the house. Once a week we go grocery shopping; once or twice we pick up anything else we need, like fruits and veggies, at the local shops. Sometimes we call off all work and go to the park for an hour or two. I also plan what I will make for dinner and take out meat that needs thawing or soak chickpeas for pressure cooking later.

12:00 a.m.  Prepare lunch.

12:45 a.m.  Glad and the kids are usually home by this time, so we eat right away, since Glad has to run back to work shortly afterwards. This is our family meal since daddy isn’t home for most dinners and he is at the gym while we have breakfast.

1:20 p.m.  Clean up lunch mess. Find a way to keep Lila out of trouble since she no longer naps (Logan plays well on his own so I don’t have to worry about him.) Put Scarlett down for a nap and take a short one myself for 15 – 20 minutes.

2:00 p.m.  Sit with my coffee and try to clear some cobwebs from my brain. I always need more sleep, but if I sleep longer, I can wake assured that Lila is up to no good. Just this past week she played with my glasses and broke them, put a mobile phone in the washer (we had to wait 3 days for the repair man to come get it out, meaning I had to add hand wash to my list of chores), and dumped a whole packet of glitter on the balcony. I lock the kitchen door, but she climbs through the small window between the kitchen and dining room to get into food and such, and sometimes can’t get back out. The other day I woke to the sound of her and Logan heading out the front door. No more long naps for me.

Once the cobwebs are gone, I help them with their homework, if they have any that day.

3:00 p.m.  I wake Scarlett from her nap, and then work on dinner. Meanwhile the kids entertain themselves with play or coloring or teasing each other and making it hard for me to finish quickly. Somewhere in there I give them a snack and that keeps them quiet for a while.

4:20 p.m. Roughly by this time I am done with the cooking, depending on how many times I had to intervene with the kids. I have a snack myself and then we get ready to go for skating class.

4:45 p.m. We leave the house. The sports park is close so we get there quickly. On Wednesdays we skip skating and go instead to the playground.

6:30 p.m. (or so) Head home. Wash up. Heat dinner and serve.

7:15 p.m. Kids are done eating so they have some playtime while I clean up. I also use this time to boil the milk for the next day, make yogurt (as needed), etc.

7:45 p.m. Shower time for the kids. Sometimes this is a happy time and other times they are crying until the moment they are in bed. Get into pj’s, brush teeth, have a story, drink some water, milk every minute they can of being awake. 🙂

8:30 p.m. Kids in bed. Since Logan and Lila no longer nap, they go to sleep quickly. Scarlett takes a little longer, and I often hear her singing to herself, or I catch her looking at books or playing. She is usually asleep by 9.

As soon as the kids are in bed, I jump in the shower, and then head for the computer. That is my only time most days. Sometimes I’d like to go to bed early, but Glad only gets in at 11 p.m., and because of the type of lock on our door, I have to stay up to let him in. We aren’t going to change it now that we are moving. If Glad is home that evening, I will go to bed earlier. Sometimes we will both be in bed by 10, or we relax with a movie together. (If I’m desperately tired, like during PMS, I’ll get into bed early and send Glad an SMS to call me when he gets home. That way I get some extra sleep.)

This is my weekday schedule.

On Saturdays we go to the park for a few hours or maybe the mall, just to spend the morning out of the house. Then I use the afternoon to catch up on stuff I can’t normally fit in.

On Sundays I work for a few hours outside the house, so daddy is in charge. I take full advantage of this “day off” from being mommy. I leave the house at noon, finish work by 3:30, eat lunch, and then take some time for shopping, visiting a mall by myself, or just walking around and enjoying the peace. I am home somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Daddy takes the kids skating this day, so that they can fit in 5 days of lessons a week.

The classes last for 3 months, so after that I’m sure the schedule will change again, as summer will be here and school will be out. And there are more changes to come involving our move to Canada. But I’m not letting them stay up late ever again. 🙂 I love the quiet.

Life Lessons Can Be Found Anywhere

Last Sunday, Glad took the kids to a sports park that is not far from home. It has tennis courts, basketball courts, a roller rink, a path circling the entire park for walking, and lots of grass to run in. We have been there many times before but this time, Logan had a request.

Ever since he saw Twice Upon A Christmas and watched Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck skate with ease, Logan has wanted to skate. In his mind it was effortless fun, and after watching the more experienced children zip around the rink, Logan asked to learn to skate. Of course, Lila asked to learn too. She loves skating and was happy to get skates for her last birthday, but has not learned to use them properly. After some thought, Glad decided we should go for it.

The next day, we met at the park and signed the kids up for the class. They provided a basic kit for each of them – skates that attach to your shoes, elbow and knee pads, hand guards, and a soft helmet. Once dressed, they both got in line for their first class.

Logan immediately realized that skating wasn’t as easy as he had imagined. He wanted to go fast like the other kids and was upset to find he couldn’t. Logan has balance issues and trips easily, so our hope is that learning to skate will help improve his balance. But more than that, Logan needs to learn perseverance.

After the first lesson, he didn’t want to go back. The next day when I took them for their second class, Logan cried to whole time. He refused to join his group or even try to walk on the skates, which is what the other beginners were doing. It was one of those embarrassing moments in a parents’ life – your child is throwing a fit and you are just praying to keep your composure and at the same time not give in to the tantrum. Since they were just starting out, I had promised them a small treat for doing a good job, but since Logan made such a fuss, he missed his treat and his video time. He didn’t even seem to care that Lila got a treat.

The next day (day 3 of classes) we discussed why he wasn’t yet able to skate fast or backwards like he wanted to. I told him it would take time and effort on his part and that he couldn’t just quit. This isn’t the first time we’ve had this kind of discussion. I also told him that if he threw another fit at class, he would miss our special outing to the mall. I needed to do something to get him to stop saying he couldn’t do it and agree to at least try.

Just before the class started, I asked him what would happen if he threw a fit again. He said he’d miss his treat, video, and mall outing. 🙂  Kids can be so much harder on themselves than we are. Anyway, he did great. Not only did he make good effort, he was happy and smiling the whole time, and he did get a treat this time, plus of course the promised mall outing. We used the outing to take a break from skating class, since classes are on daily but they only need to come as often as we want them to.

Getting Logan to persevere at something has never been easy. It takes loads of persuasion, encouragement, discussion, and simply saying “You can do it.” Once he learns how to do whatever it is, then he’s fine, but until he learns it, he wears me out with how hard he has convinced himself that he can’t do it.

It isn’t a new lesson, but perseverance is an important one. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to teach him something, like buttoning his shirt. I did it for him forever until daddy asked why. With some effort on daddy’s part, Logan learned to do buttons himself. I’d probably still be doing them for him if daddy hadn’t pushed him. I pushed him with learning to write,  among other things, but I foresee this will be a lifelong lesson for Logan. He wants to quit kindergarten now, so I encourage him by telling him the school year is almost over and that he will get a long break. (School lets out in April here.)

I guess the title of this post is its point – life lessons can be found anywhere – even on the roller rink.

My little skaters.

My little skaters.

 

You can see more pics from the skating here on Facebook.

A Glorious Slow Morning

Today I am linking up with Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary for her writing meme Just Write.


Today I did something different…
I took my kids to our favorite park first thing in the morning. We left at 9 a.m. in order to “beat the heat” (38C was the predicted high), and so we could have some fun when it wasn’t crowded, which it is later in the evening.

 I found myself taking it slow today. We didn’t rush and run all over. Instead, they went on the slide as many times as they wanted and spent a good 20 minutes on the swings. My kids like to go slow on the swings and often when there is a crowd, there will be a line of kids pushing to get on and I feel like I have to rush them through their turn. Today there was none of that. The only people in our part of the playground were workmen removing some tree branches they had cut earlier. The girls got to sit and swing at their own pace and they both learned how to move the swing by themselves.
There was no rush or pressure to leave – I had nowhere to be and the house had no idea it was a mess. I put all thoughts of the waiting mess out of mind and we had fun.
Now if only I could do that every time we go.
How about you? What are your trips to the park like? Do you find yourself hurrying your child along or do you let them go at their own pace? 

Summer Fun – Day Camps



Excited about his first day at summer camp.

 Do you remember attending summer camps as a child? I never went to one, so I can’t speak from my own memory, but I have heard they can be fun for kids. As a child, I often wondered why parents would send their kids to a camp when the kids were free from school and had time to spend with their parents. Now that I am a parent myself, I can understand their value. Parents aren’t free just because it is summer; they still have to work. And even if a mother is home with her kids, there is only so much she can do before their fights and demands for attention and activities get to her.

Enter summer day camps. While older children might benefit from camps where they actually stay at them for a few weeks, day camps are great for the little ones. You drop them off, spend a few hours doing what you need to do, and pick them up in time for lunch and naps – at least, that is how it is working for me. Logan’s school offers day camps for children from 3 to 12 years, so we signed both Logan and Lila up for the 3 to 5 group. They have 3 hours of activities every weekday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They started last week and the camp will last for one more week, ending on Lila’s birthday.


She was a little more hesitant.



Some of the activities they have been enjoying are dance, science projects, cooking, art projects, tae kwan do, French, and one day was a field trip to the railway museum. I like having them go because for 3 hours a day, they are completely occupied in a safe location, freeing me to catch up on housework, go shopping, relax, or whatever … at least, that was the hope. I have discovered that Scarlett has become more clingy since she lost her morning playmate and she follows me around like she is tied to me. She also wants to nurse more and insists on going outside after the others leave. Needless to say, I don’t get much done around the house as she has not yet learned to entertain herself.

Thankfully those are three hours in which I don’t have to listen to fights over who needs which toy, whose turn it is to pick the video, “mommy, I want to do this with you”, “mommy, he bit me/she hit me”, screaming, and so on. These are hours of peace that help me get through the rest of the day with them easier. Another benefit is that Lila is getting used to being with someone other than me, and since she will be attending this school come June, she will already be used to it and will hopefully settle in more quickly.

Have you ever, or do you, send your kids to day camps? What has your experience been and how has it made the summer more enjoyable for your whole family?

Outing Ideas

Do you ever feel the need to get out of the house with your child but you don’t want to go anywhere that is a big ordeal or where you have to pay a huge fee? Here are a few ideas that are sure to occupy children, cost little or nothing, and are fun:
Your local pet shop – Places with animals are usually great for small children.

My three love animals.

A children’s bookstore – read a few books and maybe pick one to take home. Some children’s bookstores offer a story hour which preschoolers will enjoy.

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Your local library or a children’s library – these also often have story hour, or you can just browse and borrow a few books or DVD’s.

The children’s library near our house.

Lila (10 months) enjoying the books.

The mall – go during off hours when there is hardly anyone shopping. That way your child can run and look at things without causing trouble for anyone.

Last Christmas Eve.

A toy shop – my kids love visiting the toy shop, and I always make it clear to them that we are just looking, not buying. They often point out things they like and it gives me ideas for birthday and Christmas gifts, and once in a while we do get something small for right away, like bubbles or a small toy or book.
One drawback of a toy shop is that many are very strict about children not touching the toys or playing with them and that can be frustrating since obviously that is what children know toys are for. As long as you are right there and they aren’t wildly pulling stuff off the shelves or being rough with things, it should be fine.

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Ice cream shop – always a fun place to visit, especially in summer.

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A park – if you are bored with the one you always go to, find a new one.

Lila and Scarlett having fun.

 Where is your favorite quick-outing place?

Summer Fun – Parks

One of the simplest things you can do with your children is take them to your local park. Parks are great places for them to run and play safely, and being in nature is relaxing for you too. Whether you stay for 1/2 an hour, a morning, afternoon, or all day, parks are a great option when you are stuck and don’t know where to go.

Simply pack a bag with a few outdoor toys (balls, bats, frizbees, sand toys, etc.), a snack or picnic lunch, water bottle, wet wipes, disinfectant, sun hats, and anything else you might need, then go and enjoy some time in nature.

Here is a selection of photos from the times over the past few years when I have taken my kids to a few of our local parks. These first ones are from when Logan and Lila were small.

Logan at 8 months.

 

Daddy and Logan play together.

 

You can do anything at a park.

Lila at 11 months.
And some more recent ones.
Lila and Scarlett enjoying some climbing.

Snacktime.

“Of course I can climb this, Mom!” (Scarlett at 15 months)
So if you haven’t enjoyed a park outing recently, go for it. It is great fun for the whole family.
What do you like to do at the park?

Summer Fun – Water Play

My children have always loved using water play to cool off in hot weather. When we lived in a tiny apartment, they played in the shower, but when we moved to our house and got our large patio/balcony, they had more space to play.

At first I gave them a bucket of water to play in; then we used the baby bath tub. This works just great for small children in a small area.

September 2010 – Logan, 2 yrs. 10 mo.; Lila, 1 yr. 5 mo.

Then I got them this tiny pool that measured only 2′ in diameter. It was small but they could both get in and enjoy it. It only lasted a short while though as Lila started biting holes in it and I couldn’t inflate it any more.

September 2010

After that, Logan got this large pool as a gift for his 3rd birthday. We finally set it up a few months later once the summer was in full swing and I was recovered enough from Scarlett’s delivery to carry buckets of water to fill it. I think this one is 6′ across.

May 2011 – Lila 2 yrs., Logan 3 yrs, 6 mo.

And we are still using it, but now I use a hose to fill it. And Scarlett loves to help.

This was taken yesterday. Scarlett 16 mo., Lila 2 yr. 11 mo., Logan 4 yr. 4 mo.

Some water play tips:

– As with any activity, safety is important. Make sure the area you are using is non-slippery and has drainage. For a balcony area, you may want to sweep it first if there area lots of leaves or dirt. That way the water stays cleaner and there is nothing painful to step on.
– Bring the toys your child wants before getting in the water to avoid having wet feet and drippy swimsuits running through the house for something they forgot.
– Even if your child is old enough to play alone, do check on them frequently. And never leave a toddler or baby unattended around even a small amount of water.
– Remember your sunscreen, and use hats and t-shirts if your child burns easily.

Have fun.

What is your kids’ favorite way to cool off in the summer?

Summer Fun – Water Painting

This might not be what you are thinking it is, so read on. I once read about this activity in a book of things to do with preschoolers. It is simple and sure to keep them occupied.

All you need is a large paintbrush (one for painting walls), a bucket, and an outdoor area such as a driveway or balcony that is cement or waterproof.

Fill your bucket with water, then show your child how to “paint” the walls with water. As children are wont to do, this painting will probably cover more than the walls. The ground, steps, car, outdoor toys – everything will be painted. But you can rest assured that nothing will be ruined since the paint is actually water.

You may also want to dress your child in a swimsuit and not leave them fully dressed as I did. I just increased my laundry pile. Not smart. But they had a lot of fun, even painting each other in the process. I finally had to put a stop to it when they began climbing into the bucket and fighting over it.  Next time I’d better give them each their own bucket.

You could also do a mini version of this if you don’t want them to get wet by giving them a small paintbrush and a plastic cup of water. This works well with Lila as she likes working with small things, but I would never give it to Logan if I wanted him dry as he would be sure to get wet, throw the water, drink it, or dump it on someone.

Picture Taking


Ahhh, isn’t that a beautiful picture? There’s nothing like a tree sparkling with colored lights under a blanket of snow to get me into the Christmas mood. Unfortunately neither exist here. But I’m happy to say the weather is cooler than it was. It’s so refreshing. It also gives me a chance to dress the kids in long sleeved shirts and pants, something we usually avoid the rest of the year.




As you can see, I’m still trying to get the perfect posed picture of the two of them. Lila is more willing to take pictures; she will smile as soon as I pull out the camera. Logan will sit for about 2 seconds and then jump up and charge at me. He thinks it’s so funny, and so does Lila. She will laugh at his antics like it’s the best entertainment around. It takes many shots to get one good one of Logan. Having him put his arm around her helps to keep him busy for a few more seconds so the picture can take. My camera is a little slow (it’s very old; anyone want to get me a nice gift for Christmas? I’d love a new camera) but at least it works.

I’ve taken many of them so I will upload the best of them over the next few days so that I don’t overwhelm you.

Here’s a question for you: what gets you in the Christmas mood?

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