Thursday, June 26, 2014

Spontaneous Plans

With some focused effort to ease up a bit on planned activities, the kids and I have enjoyed some impromptu (but still kind of planned) adventures.

On Monday morning I felt like going to a park.  One of my favorites that we have enjoyed since the kids were tiny is just a five-minute drive up the road from our new house.  It's the park I think of when we read Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy as it has lots of climbing "castles" and a "mean robot" (tire swing).  It even has a little creek where the kids like to play Pooh Sticks and a long trail where we take walks and sometimes bring the balance bikes to make up for not having sidewalks in our neighborhood.  I felt like going there on Monday morning, and the kids are always up for a park, so we did.  The glory of that kind of "planning" is exactly why I want to keep a bunch of summer days open for spontaneity.

We went shopping with my mom on Tuesday morning (skipped Tunes--the performers scheduled were not our favorite), and did gymnastics and visited a garage sale on Wednesday morning.  While drinking my morning coffee on Wednesday, I also saw a reminder email for a Detroit Public Television event that I had decided to skip when I saw the first email.  But as I thought about it that morning, envisioning our third afternoon at home in a row, I made another spontaneous plan.  We bought tickets and arranged to meet Mike after work at the Royal Oak Farmer's Market to hang out with Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, and Clifford, and see a performance by Barney.



Michael and Sophie enjoyed story time.


What does a sheep say?  "Baaaaaah."


They picked out their own balloons.  I love Michael's turtle but tried to steer Sophie toward a flower for her wrist rather than a (dopey looking) hat.  But my goodness, the gorgeous child even pulls that off.  We're thinking of keeping the hat to help us teach the kids about the female reproductive system in the future.

The line behind the kids above was to meet one of the many PBS Kids characters, but these two still will have nothing to do with that kind of thing.  There will be no hugs for Santa, the Easter Bunny, nor for George/Super Why/Clifford from Michael and Sophie.  I regret not yet going to Disney World less and less knowing Mickey would still make these two scream in terror.


I was a little worried when we couldn't find seats for Barney's performance as showtime neared, but sitting on the ground worked out great.  Michael and Sophie got really into dancing to the songs and had space to do so.  I have to admit that I got a little star struck.  I wish I was kidding.  I even teared up a little singing the songs I have sung to the kids since before they could understand me,  and we were singing them with Barney.  It was an embarrassingly special experience for this dork of a mom, not unlike the sentimental sappiness I go through at Sesame Street Live.


Before leaving for dinner the kids took part in a couple of crafts.  They glued on Barney's tummy and colored him (they both wrote their names--all the letters are there anyway).  They also colored Elmo's fishbowl and stuck on fish stickers.


On the way out Sophie said she wanted a Barney "snuggle buddy," and as a rare treat we simply said sure.  Another $10 toward public television is a good thing, right?

The Barneys even joined us for dinner and are the current bedtime snuggle buddies of choice.

I think I'm getting the hang of planning/not planning again and am finding our summer groove.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Whirlwind Week One

I am ending this first week of summer incredibly satisfied with all we have done but with the goal of turning down the intensity on our schedule a bit.  We need some time to just play and relax and feel the lazy days of summer which we have not done a whole lot of so far--yet another way we will work to find balance this summer.

To celebrate the start of summer, Mike and I had a date night (sushi and The Grand Budapest Hotel) and stayed overnight at a nearby Hyatt.  Our moms bought us a night there at my MoMs club's auction last fall and offered to sleep over with the kids when we finally cashed it in.  It was a fantastic way to kick off this season, going on a mini-vacation right here at home.

The view from our hotel room looked convincingly like a real vacation. 

Since the hotel had a pool, we had my mom run Michael and Sophie to us in the morning so they could swim with us.  They have not been big fans of their swim lessons lately, so swimming more for fun is in order.  We had the pool pretty much to ourselves and played until lunchtime, having a great time and wearing ourselves out beautifully for an afternoon nap.

There was a big festival nearby over the weekend, but with our overnight adventure and preparing to have our families over for Father's Day on Sunday, we skipped it for the most part.  We did decide to keep the kids up late and see the festival fireworks Saturday night, their first. 

We got Michael and Sophie into their jammies about an hour later than normal, loaded them in the car, and had them all geeked up for a surprise.  I enjoy their guesses whenever we do this kind of thing.  Guesses tend to include ice cream, grocery shopping, Grandma's house, and the Mackinaw Bridge.  Their expectations are pretty broad.  We told them we were going to see fireworks, but having never seen them before, they were still pretty curious what was up. Even so, both kids were incredibly patient as we sat on and under blankets for about an hour waiting for dusk.  Once the fireworks did begin, they loved them, especially watching for twinkly ones (Mommy's favorite), circle and star ones (Daddy's favorite), purple ones (for Sophie), and blue ones (for Michael). 

Of course, about half-way through, Michael and Sophie were pretty tired and started asking to go home.  After explaining how great a grand finale can be, they agreed to stick around and take it all in.  Sophie eventually asked me to hold her "like a baby" and fell asleep, perking up whenever she heard us "oooh" over a good one. 

Michael explained as we watched that there is also a grand finale in Clifford at the Circus.  He's been making a lot of connections like that lately.  One morning he told me he got up to go potty in the "middle of the night" and then explained that it was like Madeline, that Miss Clavel wakes up to find Madeline crying about her appendix "in the middle of one night."  English teacher moms get a big kick out of literary connections.   He and Sophie really pick up on the words and phrases in the books we read and often catch us if we switch words around or (gasp) skip parts, even after just a couple of readings.  It's kind of impressive, I swear. 

The real life grand finale did not disappoint, and Mike and I considered making midnight the kids' bedtime from now on as it was the smoothest one ever.  Since they were still up promptly at 6 A.M. the next day, Mike and I scratched that plan.

We enjoyed having our parents and my brother over for a Father's Day barbecue on Sunday afternoon.  Whenever I question buying this big house, I remind myself how easy it is to entertain here. With memories from our a housewarming party, Christmas day, a sign-painting party, the kids' birthday party, my mom's retirement party, and some extra family dinners along the way, I know this house has kept up its end of that deal in these short eight months.

This was the most laidback day of the week, which was ideal for the first "real" day of summer vacation.  However, I did take the kids on an adventure to mommy's work (I left a flash drive there) and to get a haircut for Michael in the morning.  The rest of the day was spent in chillout and play mode.

Summer 2014-2

We enjoyed our first outdoor kids' concert of the season at Tunes on Tuesday.  I had never heard Gemini play live before, but their music was a staple at the child care center I worked at in Ann Arbor nearly 20 years ago.  While I sometimes (always) wish that I was raising Michael and Sophie in A2, listening to Gemini sing about Zingerman's Deli with one of the guys in a t-shirt for The Ark, I was reminded that we are not so far away.

We started morning gymnastics this week at a gym closer to our new house than where we went previously.  This place also has classes just for boys when/if Michael wants them down the road.  Sophie and Michael came out of this lesson excited to be doing it all again, hardly phased by the new teacher and relatively unfamiliar environment (we did one sample class and one playdate there in the past).  Sophie hated the balance beam and the rope when gymnastics ended at the previous gym last summer and would come crying to me whenever they were part of the class.  They didn't do either of those activities on Wednesday.  I'm hopeful that she'll be brave and give them another shot this summer.  Cross fingers!

Michael and Sophie will start soccer on Wednesday afternoons in a couple of weeks.  While I want summer to be relaxing for all of us, getting to lessons like these is so much easier when I'm not balancing my work schedule as well.  I want to give them a taste of a team sport and look forward to seeing how they like it, even if it does mean two classes to chauffeur them to in one day.

We joined some twin friends for some strawberry picking on Thursday morning, another summer first for Michael and Sophie.  It amazes me how many things we still haven't tried when we are constantly juggling day-to-day activities and family adventures.  I have to remind myself that Michael and Sophie don't have to have every experience before they reach kindergarten, but mommy-guilt can be relentless.  I'm typically confident and proud of our parenting and the decisions Mike and I make for our family, but I can still fall victim to the worry.  Are we doing enough?  Have they done all they should?  Am I holding them back, pushing too hard, or finding the balance (there's that word again)?  Relentless.  It gets me good when I'm on breaks from work.

Speaking of grand finales, our trip to Kalahari was certainly just that for our first week of summer vacation.  I owe a lot of thanks to my MoMs club and my friends in it for arranging so many playdates and parties and grown-up gatherings for my family to enjoy.  We hit the road on Friday morning and joined a few other families for a night away at this waterpark--yes, another first--and had a ball!  Although Michael and Sophie were too little for a lot what the park offers, the wave pool, lazy river, kiddie pool areas, climbing gym, and time with our friends provided plenty of fun for us. 

The kids were so worn out by Friday afternoon that even a hotel nap was a piece of cake.  
Again, as fun and satisfying as this week was, I am looking forward to some long, lazy days this week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer is here.

I have a calendar full of activities for the kids, day trips and weekends away for the family, and a list of goals that could easily fill these coming weeks.  But I can't let them fill the time completely.  Summer is my time to soak in and give myself to my kids.  I also long to get creative and productive in ways that the school year just does not allow.   I feel challenged to find a comfortable balance this year.

Summer 2014 

So hello again, blogs.  You always help me to slow down, reflect, and express myself.  I look forward to reconnecting with you as well.

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