June 10, 2010

One of my favorite parts of summer is I get to say yes more.  Mom can I go out to play?  Yes.  Mom can I have a friend over?  Yes.  Mom can I go make bows and arrows today?  Yes.  Mom can we go to the pool?  Yes.  Mom can I bike ride?  Yes.  All the things I feel like I have to say no to I tend to say yes to in the summer.  That is a great feeling for both me and them.

However there tends to be a pattern with this. After they discover I am saying yes more they immediately test the boundaries of my willingness.  Today upon waking "Mom can I play Wii all day?  Mom can I watch a movie (that they know they are not allowed to yet)?  Mom can I have ice cream now?  Mom can I have pretzels for breakfast?"  It's almost like they need to still hear me say no and realize there still are boundaries even if they are fairly loose for my typical standards.  More likely they just want to see what they can truly get out of me and away with.

We will find our new balance fairly quickly.  They will settle into our summer routine and I will continue to say yes and they will continue to push the boundaries to the limit .  They will push until they realize there really is a firm limit at the other end.  Eventually they will be happy with the extra latitude they are receiving because it is summer.

For now I feel like the picture above and I am enjoying being able to say yes to them and reward them after a long but successful school year.

June 9, 2010

Unexpected Road

I had our summer all mapped out.  I was excited and we had plans and a way to follow through on them.  I should have known better and known life is full of curve balls and unexpected turns.

Last Friday the kids and I headed out for the first of many planned bike rides.  A nice bike ride to and from the pool a day filled with swimming, a little exercise, a lot of sun.

On our bike ride there Ciaran kept getting off his bike just not wanting to ride anymore. He is usually my most amenable rider the one I have to reign in from riding to far ahead of the rest of us.   I was feeling frustrated as we had plans and were meeting people at the pool and were already running late.  He told me had sudden growing pains and after the second stop I offered to turn around and go home, we probably should have.

Not sure if his Irish stubborn side or his desire to swim won out in the end but he decided he wanted to keep going forward.  We got to the pool and played with our friends for just a bit before they had to leave, it was nice to see there and be with them.  When they left the kids went swimming and I laid on the chair in the sunshine with my book and thought, this is a perfect way to spend summer just like this.  Get some bike exercise, relax on the pool deck, the kids can all swim themselves and I can jump in for some laps and to cool off.  It felt like summer and was lovely.

We headed home and on our bike ride home Maria took a spill at the bottom of the hill and in just that brief moment the summer changed.  We will still have a great summer, it will still be fun and filled with interesting things but it will be different now.  Maria tore a ligament in her knee in that spill and will have a long road to recovery.  There will not be many family bike rides and our time at the pool will look different over the next few weeks but it will come.

So it is time to slow down and just be.  Time to just hang out at home and have friends over to play.  Time to read together, play board games, work on puzzles, take up a new handwork hobby.  Time to swing in the hammock, have bonfires and enjoy the home we have built together.  In a few weeks or months when the injury is fully healed then it can be the time for other things.  Now seems to be the time to just be here and just be, enjoying the summer this way.  Enjoying Unexpected Road.

June 4, 2010


I love reading and always have for as long as I can remember.  I read a lot as a child and then straight through the rest of my life. I visited far off place, made friends and began to dream big dreams all on the pages of those books.  I wanted to pass not just an ability but also a love of reading on to my children.  So I read to them a lot and I taught them to read and when they could read I required them to read a lot.  

In general the rule in our house is an hour a day from second grade on, often they read more, sometimes they read less.  That is a year round rule for us, during school and summer.  During the school year that hour a day is a book or books of their choice.  For summertime reading I choose the books or at least the subject they read for that hour.  They are free to read books of their choice beyond that hour and often they will if they are interested enough in something.  Screen time (video games, televesion, computer time) is directly tied to the amount of time they read.  They can not have any until they have read for at least an hour and then after that they can only receive the amount of screen time equal to the amount of time they have read for the day. 

This summer Maria is reading biography's of her choice for her assigned reading time.  I took her to the library yesterday and she chose a dozen biography's from the children's section, with her rule being it has to be about someone you have not learned or do not know much about yet.  Her choices so far have been interesting, it will be fun to see what the summer brings.  I am also encouraging her to read the entire Redwall series though she has not yet developed a love for it. 

Ciaran is reading two series to start the summer - The Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum (14 books) and The Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynne Reid Banks (5 books).  If he gets through those we will finish up the Great Illustrated Classics series books he has not finished.  He is also enjoying rereading the Rick Riordan books and I think he will begin reading Ridley Pearson multiple series for fun on his own. 

Sirah has the most freedom in book choices as she can choose anything at her reading level and she still only need to read around 30 minutes each day.  I try to read aloud to her for atleast a half hour as well to bring her up to an hour a day. 

I am finishing compiling their school year book lists.  I keep track of all the books they read through the school year and then post the lists here.  Look for them some time this month.