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Halfway through

July 16, 2012

We are now unofficially halfway through the summer.  We’ve had six weeks of swim team, traveling, mountains, beach, and being at home.  Coming up is six weeks of various camps, vacation Bible School, visit from from Curtis’s sisters and her two daughters, and being at home.  I feel like I’ve learned a three things in this first half that may help me through the second half.

We need to-do lists.  I’ve decided to try a different sort of to-do list this summer.  Each of my three littles have a chart with five categories on it:  Create Something, Explore/Learn Something, Read Something, Clean Something, and Help Someone.  Until those five categories get more or less accomplished, there is no computer time.  It’s been great.  It’s broad enough that the kids have control over what they do but specific enough that it gives ideas.  It has cured the daily complaining by Madeleine about having to read.  It is fabulous.  I’v also found it has some unintended benefits.  The chart works as a quick journal of what we are doing.  At supper time, we are able to share with Curtis what we’ve done in each category.  I intentionally left Sunday off our chart as well, as an attempt to establish a bit of a Sabbath with the kids.

My kids need time with friends and time out of the house as much as I do.  I don’t know why this was shocking for me to discover, but it was.  Yesterday, we spent the day out of the house mostly.  In the morning, we hiked with friends’ of Madeleine and John’s.  As I listened to Madeleine and her friend talk, I realized how much Madeleine has been missing contact with her peer group.  In the evening, we went to the Wildflower Center’s Family Nature Night.  Science activities abounded–dissecting owl pellets, birds of prey scavenger hunt, and a presentation from a group that rescues birds of prey that can’t survive in the wild  (complete with birds there for the kids to see).  Madeleine soaked it up.  Both her and John were unbelievably pleasant on the way home.  We waited in line for ice pops and they literally ran out with the people immediately in front of us.  My kids took it in stride.  They didn’t whine, they didn’t complain, they didn’t beg for something else.  It was incredible.  I think that had a great deal to do with the fact that their “tanks” were full—their emotional needs were met.

We need to feel useful.  Part of having summer break means I get to always take two or three children with me to the grocery store. I know I could go on the weekend or after they are in bed, but sometimes, you need something NOW!  The kids usually start out doing fine, but by the end, Madeleine is pestering the boys and the boys are wrestling with each other in the cart.  Fun times for Mom, in other words.  Today, I had an epiphany.  I put Madeleine to work.  I told her to chose the bread. She tasted a couple of samples and then picked one she liked.  She chose the deli meat and had to find a packet that was half a pound.  She pushed the cart so I could hold Isaac to prevent him from climbing all over John.  With the exception of Isaac who wasn’t happy about being carried, the grocery store trip ended smoothly, which was a big switch from the start.  As we walked from the store, I let Isaac carry a not heavy bag of groceries and his orneriness was fixed as well.

The question is, will I be able to remember these things next month?  next week? or even tomorrow?  Let’s hope so.  It will help the next six weeks be enjoyable for all of us.

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