Notes to My Former Self

Hindsight is 20/20. Well, this isn't really hindsight since I'm still IN it. Like, way in it. I don't know what day it is but summer vacation is NOT almost over. Max started crawling and my vacuum cleaner has another mysterious clog, a terrible coincidence of events. Nonetheless, if I could go back in time and write a parenting book for my newbie parent self, it would have these tidbits in it....

1) It's always good to have some friends with kids older than yours. The bigger kids will play with your kids in ways you'll never be able to and it's a window to your future. Keeps things in perspective and reminds you that time keeps marching on, even when the days feel endless.
2) Never cook dinner at 5 o'clock. Little children are wild beast demons at 5 o'clock. Big children need rides to activities. STOP FIGHTING FIVE O'CLOCK! It will beat you down every time. Cook dinner at some other time and reheat it. Or have sandwiches.
3) Record your baby's laughter.
4) Seek out wide open spaces. Children do magical things with wide open spaces, and it's good for them to take their conflicts out of your ear shot (they solve their own problems) but still under your watchful gaze (they don't kill each other doing it).
5) Don't spend too much time figuring out when your children will sleep. Instead, figure out how you can squeeze in a solid eight hours in between nursing, nightmares, kids spilling water bottles on you, losing your spot in the bed and wandering the house looking for an uncluttered horizontal surface to fall down on and so forth.


Summer Break: Week 1

2-4-6-8 Running Club is really great!
Week 1 of Laurel's 8 week summer break is coming to a close. She specifically requested "no camps" this summer. I love her school, but the schedule is kind of intense for kindergarten....8:30-3:30 every day and no nap. I can totally understand why she wants some unstructured time. And luckily, I can accommodate that very easily as a SAHM! I knew that I couldn't just let the summer unfold without any planning though, so we made some lists. Summer Reading Program at the library. Running Club (more on that below). A Duckie Tour. Painting on the porch. Visiting every pool in the city. Volunteering somewhere. I made a loose schedule so we could be motivated to get out of the house with enough time to get back in the afternoons for naps for the boys. I thought it would be amazing.

Then Monday happened. It was terrible. 

The kids fought with each other all morning. They only wanted to watch tv. It was hot. Max was having trouble going to sleep or nursing with all the distractions. The house was almost immediately destroyed. They took out all the art supplies and every toy. Marko stole some jelly out of the fridge and was eating it with a spoon but also leaving big sticky globs all over the place until I caught him. I immediately started researching which camps still had slots opened.  Then my mom came to the rescue and picked up Laurel. She had a lovely two day vacation at their house. When I went to pick her up, we left Marko there for a night. It takes a village, people. However, there were some good times this week. On Thursday we launched our Running Club. We do a warm up, stretching, run a course or some sprints and then play games that involve running. Laurel loves to run, but pretty much hates all sports that involve balls and passing them off to teammates. Her favorite thing to do is play tag. This week was the first session and 12 kids came, even though it was pouring down rain. I think it's going to be a big hit this summer. 

Bagel rescue complete!
Another thing we did was visit Creative Reuse to stock up on paper and random junk for crafting. Apparently a science teacher recently cleaned out her classroom because they have a lot of pyrex beakers and pipettes and scales and other fun science-y things for sale right now. Marko and Laurel spent hours on the front porch assembling projects. Max likes to stand in his exersaucer and watch them. I need to add glue - a LOT more glue - to my shopping list, though. We also went to our usual playgroup, which meets outside in the summer. The playgroup is hosted by the pastor's wife at the Pittsburgh New Church and they have a great space outside for kids to play. There's also a school there, so they are very unfussy about kids playing in the dirt and mud, constructing fairy houses, climbing the trees, etc. And on Friday we did our "Food Rescue Mission" and diverted three boxes of bagels to a senior high rise. One of my strongest childhood memories is volunteering for various things with my dad and siblings. We used to go to a nursing home and do crafts with the residents. And finally, we wrote letters to our school friends who went away to New Mexico for the summer. I love getting mail and it's really fun to do pen pals with Laurel now because she can write her own letters.

So, even though there was a fair amount of crying and gnashing of teeth, when I look back at the week and see all that we did, I feel pretty happy. Next week my mom will take the kids for an overnight, and we'll do pretty much the same thing, except maybe add a trip to the creek or to the spray park.