Summer Days

It’s July 16th.

The summer is already a quarter spent!

Here today, gone tomorrow.

By this week I feel like we’re finally hitting the summer groove around here.  It always takes much longer than expected to adjust to a whole new schedule and routine.  We’ve had some busy weekends with late nights that kept us struggling to play catch up on sleep, laundry and other necessities, but this week…ah…we are finally feeling it 🙂

I have been looking forward to this summer so much.  It is wonderful to have hit the official one year mark with our girls.  We are into our second year, creating traditions, reliving memories and basking in the comfortable feeling those things bring.

It was time for a break from school and I am delighted to once again be the centre of my daughters’ world.  Since I’m at stay at home mom and the girls aren’t in any type of extracurricular programs, the three of us spend every day all day together.  Granted, that gets a bit stifling at times, but I truly do love us seeing the world together and knowing the seconds and minutes of their days, something I never got to experience with them as infants and toddlers.  I love knowing every little thing about them and why exactly they are tired, grumpy, happy, sad, overwhelmed or silly at the end of the day.  There is so much intimacy in that knowing.

I also spent some time thinking about the summer before it actually came, so I was prepared for the longer days and lack of routine and personal space.  I decided I would build those elements into our days and so far it has worked really well!  I knew I wanted to enjoy the freedom of summer with them, but I also knew that my pregnant body would need rest each day and my daughters and I would all benefit from some personal space!  So every afternoon we spend at least 30-60 minutes having Quiet Time.  It’s not always at the same time, as our days vary in schedule and activities, but we try to make it happen every day, even if it has to be right before dinner.  To prepare for this, I created our ‘Quiet Time Box’ which is filled with activities that only get used at Quiet Time; puzzles, games, notebooks, magnetic dolls, simple and no-mess crafts.  Nothing messy, nothing complicated and nothing electronic is the rule.  They each pick one thing from the Quiet Time Box each day, as well as some books to read.  Then we each disappear to our own little corner of the house for that time.  There are only 2 rules for Quiet Time.

1) Be quiet.

2) Stay in your spot.

Usually my littlest A, who loves to talk and hates to be alone, falls asleep because she is bored and gets in a nap, which is a bonus and extends my quiet time quite substantially!  I sometimes take a nap or just sit down and read a book, spend time with Jesus or do nothing at all.  Today I’m blogging 🙂  Occasionally I’m busy preparing dinner or doing laundry in that time but it’s still great to have some time where nobody is calling for Mommy or squabbling or just making noise!  Thinking space, I call it.

Another way we’ve built in routine is that we’ve continued with our morning jobs routine that helped us during the school year.  Once we’re all up and we’ve eaten breakfast, the next step is to get ready for the day.

Wash your face.

Brush your teeth.

Get dressed.

Make your bed (This one’s only for the kids…I know, I know I should really do this too! 🙂

Pick up your dirty laundry.

Brush your hair.

After all that is done, you’re ready to go play! 🙂

If you’re thinking…”Wow, my kids would never remember all that or stay on task!”…know that this has been a work in progress for the past year.  My girls each have visual charts to help them remember to do each job, and my younger daughter who can focus for about 3 seconds max on her own has hers divided into 3 categories and has to report to me with her chart after she’s finished each category.  Now that we’ve been doing the exact same thing the exact same way for over 6 months (it took awhile to find a method that worked) they are finally moving through the routine pretty smoothly and with very minimal assistance.  It’s awesome!  I really love having the same start to our day, weekend or weekday, and knowing they can do it without me nagging them.  It also pushes me to get out of my bathrobe just a little sooner and we all feel better by 9:00 am than we would without the schedule!

Another thing we do every day is some work in our Gr. 1 and 2 Curriculum Workbooks.  They each do three pages a day, one from each category; Reading, Writing, Math.  If you’ve never seen these books at Wal-Mart and you have kids that need some extra academic practise through the summer, check these out!  They are designed based on the Canadian curriculum.  Everything should be review if you use the book for the grade your child has just completed.  It’s a great way to review concepts, identify strengths and weaknesses, fill in gaps and keep your child’s brain in tune academically.  Just a note, I understand some kids do not need this kind of maintenance over the summer and that is super!  Others, however, really benefit from this kind of review so that when September comes they do not have to spend the first two months trying to retrain their brain.  I also find it helpful to stay familiar with my children’s academic ability and behaviours related to school work.  The first rule of being an advocate for your child with a learning disability or behaviour problem is to know what their capabilities are so you can give insight and advocate for your child’s potential.  Be the expert on your child!

Besides the Quiet Time, workbooks and morning jobs we try to get out and do something active together at least once a day.  A bike ride, a walk or a swim.  They love it and it’s very healthy for me and baby who, by the way, we are all getting pretty anxious to meet!  Three more months to go! 🙂

We frequent the library down the street about twice a week, go grocery shopping and go do our ‘dog job.’  I found a family needing some extra exercise for their 3 ginormous Great Danes!  We go over twice a week and let them out to play in the yard for about an hour while all their family members are away.  It’s been a fun way for the girls to earn a bit of their own money, feel like they have a summer job and get some healthy exposure to some big dogs!  A great opportunity to practise responsibility and perseverence!

All the little pieces add up to days that fill amazingly quickly!

Overall, I feel blessed.

I love my girls so much and I feel so blessed to be able to stay at home with them full time.

I adore my husband, who works so hard to provide for us and truly is the best Dad I can imagine for our daughters.

My life feels full and rich and vibrant.  We have many friends and aquaintances we bump into around our small town each day which keeps life interesting.

We love camping in the summer and hope to get out quite a few times to do that.

As for the girls’ adoption, we are still waiting for the final documents needed to officially become a family.  We’ve run into delay after delay and I’m anxious to have our day in court, sign the papers and celebrate!  But in the meantime it really doesn’t change our lives all that much 🙂

So that’s our little world which continues to spin 🙂  Hope you are enjoying the summer as much as we are!

Cheers!

AF

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