Little things matter. Along the way you discover they weren't so little after all.

Tag Archives: summer

Today’s post is part of Five Minute Friday. Lisa-jo Baker gives us a word prompt, we set the timer for five minutes, and write. Let go of perfectionism and overthinking, and just write. You can jump in too — check out the website: http://lisajobaker.com  

Today’s word: Rhythm

GO

Summer takes on a different rhythm.

Kids stay in their jammies until lunch.

Dishes can wait.

Drop everything for a last minute trip to the park to meet friends.

Going to an activity at 9:00am, even one they want to do, feels like the crack of dawn instead of being an hour later than the bus’s arrival during the school year.

Getting anywhere on time seems more difficult because we’re all in slow motion.

But this is the rhythm that allows us to blow bubbles on the front porch,

Read one more story,

Repair the fort made of sheets and cushions,

And snuggle a few minutes more.

It’s a slower pace that lets us spend our time together and everyone gets their moment.

STOP

What changes for your family during summertime? How do you balance down time versus planned activities?


It is cool this morning, the air is dry, and there is a subtle scent that has me thinking that even if the calendar didn’t say it was the middle of August, I would still know that autumn is on the way. My sweetie has been saying it is the end of summer since July, though, so I’ve been resisting and trying to be the summer optimist.

My family is in for a serious reality check this fall. Over the past year, we’ve had very few things regularly scheduled in our lives. I homeschooled my oldest son, my middle son did a few days of preschool, and our youngest, our daughter, just hung out and did whatever the rest of us did. Even this summer, my husband and I chose not to sign up the kids for many activities, for a few different reasons: we wanted to be free to spend time at the family cabin, we were just getting settled into a new house and town, we don’t want to be the parents that schedule every waking moment for our kids…and we missed most of the deadlines in the spring!

A few weeks ago, however, I wished we had more structured outlets for the kids. There was one five day period when they were all crabby and difficult, which made me feel crabby and irritated. I realized then that there is a certain amount of schedule that helps define a summer, helps punctuate it and make it flow. Of course families who sign up their kids for multiple clubs or sports also have times when their kids are ornery too, but they have more times when they don’t have to hear it since their kids are off doing something else with somebody else. There’ve been times when I wished for that this summer, if I’m totally honest. But shhhh, ’cause I’m not supposed to say that out loud.

As we get ready to start life with a 2nd grader and kindergartener (the preschooler hasn’t gone anywhere, but we aren’t sure if she’ll attend a program or not), we want to be purposeful about which activities we enroll the kids in. There are so many things available for kids to do these days, and they’d probably have a great time in any number of them. But we’re trying to look towards the future, and not get ourselves committed to something we’ll regret later.

Let’s take sports, for instance. What if we sign up our oldest for hockey this winter? Do I ever want to see my baby get checked up against the boards by a boy twice his size? That sounds like a really stupid idea! But what if he tries it and likes it? I had a brother who played hockey growing up, and I’m familiar with the sharp smell of indoor ice rinks and the smell of stinky hockey equipment cluttering up the laundry room. And football doesn’t seem much better, without even bringing up the expense of the required equipment.

It’s not only sports that we’re thinking about. In an attempt to raise well-rounded children, we also want them to be involved in music (a high priority for me, especially). Do we automatically start them on piano? Then I’ll have to draw them a keyboard on the dining room table, ’cause we don’t have a piano, nor do we intend to purchase one. (Do they have indestructible, outdoor pianos?) Then there’s the mid-week church activities, not to mention all the after-school clubs they offer these days. We could already choose between chess, Legos, science, cooking, art, and even more “enrichment” activities.

How does one choose? That’s where you come in, Dear Reader. I have my own ideas, but I’d love to hear your words of wisdom, as my family enters the world of elementary school schedules, and grooming my children to take over the world. How do you pick between “the better” and “the best” for your family? Post your comment so I can come back and blame you when I’m stressed out from driving my kids all over the place! Ha! I’ll need somebody to be the scapegoat.

My Children's Musical Future


Two days ago it was over 100 degrees here in good ‘ol Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes and plenty of beaches that are either skunky or private. Until I started trying to find a lake to swim in, I never noticed how many of our 10,000+ lakes are really only for fishing – lots of them are surrounded by reeds or weeds that would devour any brave swimmer who attempted to reach the open water.

My three kids and I loaded up the car in search of a better beach experience than our most recent at the horrible, smelly, dead-fish infested beach on White Bear Lake which, as it turned out, had a sign posted saying “No Swimming” because of the low water levels and drop offs. As if I would have wanted to hopscotch over the fish corpses to get to the water in the first place (okay, there were three dead fish, but they had been there a long time and the whole place smelled like it should be the end of August instead of the beginning of June). I remained scarred by the disappointment of our last swimming attempt, so although the kids were outfitted in swim suits, I remained in my tank top and capris. Soon, I was wishing I had exercised more faith and put on the swim suit because we found one of the best spots I’ve been to and it was less than 10 minutes from my Lake Elmo home and, wait for it, because it happened to be the first Tuesday of the month, it was FREE. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried!

What was this sublime discovery of bliss on such a sweaty hot day? It was a swimming pond. What exactly is that, you ask? To the untrained eye, it looks like a cross between a traditional pond (because of the small size), a sandy beach (because of the, well, the sand), and a park (because of the restrooms close nearby and the playground just over the hill). But it is even more than all that. It is a chlorinated, shallow, sandy bottomed haven of respite on an unseasonably hot day. It was perfect for my three kids (ages seven and under) to splash and swim safely for hours without any leeches, weeds, or swimmer’s itch. I was kicking myself for not having on my suit because we would have stayed much longer than the two hours we did had I been prepared. Next time, I’ll bring one of those plastic weave, collapsible lawn chairs so I can sit in the water and throw things for my little retrievers to fetch while I bask without getting any sand anywhere it does not belong.

The word on the street is that if you want a spot under an umbrella, especially on the weekend, you must get there by 10:00a.m., and the weekends during the summer are very busy. It will be sure to pick up as children finish school. It was also suggested that it settles down after dinner, so for less activity and more room to spread out, it might be wise to leave for an early dinner, then return just as everyone else is heading out. It only costs $25 for a permit that is good for a year, which is so worth it especially when you consider the cost of bringing a family to a water park for the day. I drive a rockin’ minivan so just think of how many people I could cram in it and bring to the swimming pond, especially if we have a hot summer. If you’re looking for a cheap time and a chance to swim, dig, splash, build, float and relax, this is the place to try.

http://www.co.washington.mn.us/info_for_residents/parks_division/hours_and_fees/lake_elmo_park_reserve/ (Scroll down in the link to see/read info about the swimming pond.)



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