Sunday, June 28, 2009

The calm before, after, during the storm

Anyone who lives in northeastern USA (or southeastern Canada) will understand the following:

Enough rain, already.

It's rained daily for the past ten days, and it's getting old. We had some sunny breaks yesterday and Friday, and were actually able to get outside for a little while. That was nice, but it's misty and drizzly here again today.

There are few situations worse than a beginning of summer vacation with three children who can't play outside. We've survived the past week, but I'm not looking forward to the next, when the forecast is for scattered thunderstorms every day. In the immortal words of the Pet Shop Boys: What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

I've been creating daily schedules for Abby, who relies on them to keep herself organized and calm. Even the increased visuals, however, couldn't prevent her from regressing to lining up toys yesterday -- a behavior she hasn't exhibited in years, literally. She's managing to hold on and stay functional, for the most part, but it's hard, both for her, and, by extension, for the rest of the family.

All three kids start summer school a week from tomorrow, and that will help. They're all looking forward to it, to the point of counting the days. I'll be relieved that I'll only need to keep everyone occupied productively for half the day, instead of all day long. And, frankly, the alone time in the morning will go a long way toward keeping me organized and calm.

I'm hoping that the week between now and the start of summer school will feature thunderstorms that are so widely scattered that they miss us more days than not.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Earl, the best daddy ever

It would have been lovely to write this before Fathers' Day, instead of afterwards, but even a couple of days late, it's worth writing. I am married to the best father my children could ask for.

I knew Earl would be good father material back when we were dating, and children were a far-off glimmer of possibility. When Abby was born, when we had been married almost 8 years, he was completely enchanted with her, and was a very hands-on daddy right from the start.

Over the years (and with two more children added to the mix) we've had our differences of opinion in parenting, but for the things that matter most -- the big issues of values and priorities -- we generally agree. Our ways of doing what's right for our children may differ, but they complement each other and allow us to do more as a team than either of us could do individually.

Being a mother isn't easy, but the load is lighter when the father is a good one. I hope my children remember what a good dad Earl has been to them, when they are older.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

30 things I love to do with my family

In no particular order and with my immediate family -- the five of us:

  1. dance in the kitchen
  2. eat dinner at home
  3. go on a bike ride in Canada
  4. play Uno
  5. enjoy "fireplace time" in the winter
  6. practice bike-riding at the skating rink parking lot, epecially now that Abby is getting closer to being able to consider taking off her training wheels
  7. read stories
  8. go to the lake in Canada
  9. bake
  10. decorate cookies
  11. do simple crafts
  12. pack up and leave for Rochester in the morning when it's still dark
  13. take walks
  14. watch a little baseball
  15. show them fun stuff on the computer
  16. play music: practice with Abby, teaching the boys
  17. play Christmas carols on the piano and have everyone sing along
  18. "pile on Mommy time" or "pile on Daddy time"
  19. make pancakes for everyone
  20. gardening, although I do it very rarely
  21. rest time on Mommy's bed
  22. Eat dinner at Elaine and Arnold's house in Canada
  23. Swing on their balancoir
  24. group exercise in the family room
  25. watch all three kids in swimming lessons
  26. say grace together, holding hands
  27. be in church together
  28. talk about when Daddy and I were kids
  29. get ice cream at Woods
  30. Christmas morning

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I taught my last lessons tonight until July 8. I'm free!

Well, no, not really. I won't be teaching until then, it's true, but I'm not really free, with school out tomorrow and three kids to keep occupied, or at least out of trouble, until they start summer school on July 6.

I guess I'll be free on July 6 and 7, then.

In other news...well, there really is no other news. We're in the end-of-the-year crunch, which is going to last for about another 4 days, and then the calendar is quiet. I had thought about packing up the kids and taking a road trip next week, to visit various friends and relatives in New England/Long Island/Pennsylvania/New York, but really haven't planned anything, and am not sure I'm up for that big of a trip with them just yet.

I think we'll treat next week as a staycation. We'll go to the pool (assuming it's open), maybe take a day trip here or there. With no teaching to be back for and no nap to keep us tied to the house in the afternoon, there's really no reason we couldn't go on a little outing for a day. Maybe the zoo, or the planetarium (the kids would love that) or even a local observatory, if I can handle keeping them up long past their bedtime. If the ocean were anything but bone-chilling, I'd even consider the beach. Maybe Houghton's Pond is more our speed, for now.

Or maybe we'll just hook up the slip 'n slide that Brian got for his birthday, and stay cool that way, right in the back yard.

Friday, June 12, 2009


A couple of years ago, I instituted an afternoon break for myself, usually involving coffee and putting my feet up. It's become a (mostly) non-negotiable part of my day. I push myself hard most days and it's good to take a load off for a half-hour to an hour in the afternoon, and recaffeinate.

Today, I missed my break, because the boys had been invited to a birthday party a couple of towns away. It was a great party, and I even had some coffee en route, but tonight, I feel like I've been doing push-ups and lunges all day long, instead of just during my workout this morning.

The party was lovely -- held at the Weymouth Club, facilitated by staff there, and there were lots of other parents around to help. The preschool guests were generally very well-behaved, and enjoyed themselves a lot as they played traditional gym class kinds of games. They rode on scooters and played basketball, T-ball, red light/green light and duck, duck goose. All I did was stand there and watch them. Oh, and eat a piece each of pizza and birthday cake.

A great time was had by all, but I'm glad to be sitting down now. Better late than never.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Time warp

Honestly, some parts of the calendar year go faster than others. This May-June/end-of-the-school-year time is just outrageously busy. I look at our family calendar on the fridge, and it's completely covered in writing until next Friday, when white space takes over with the beginning of the kids' summer vacation.

I'm actually looking forward to the summer this year, unlike in years past, when panic set in long before school let out. Terrified that Abby and Brian would spend every free minute stimming and perseverating, I sought to fill up their days as much as possible, leaving very little room for spontaneity or fun.

This year, it's different. I'll still need to provide structure and activity, but Brian, in particular, has much stronger play and self-entertainment skills than he used to. He and Timmy play well together much of the time, and now that Timmy isn't napping in the afternoons, I can plan to take all three kids to the town pool or on other outings without impinging upon the sacred naptime.

As for Abby's summer, I only have three weeks out of the ten that have full-day programming for her. There are three more weeks of half-day programming, and the rest we're taking as vacation time. She'll enjoy being on vacation, but we'll need to continue with as much routine as is practical -- playing violin, doing her summer reading, maybe giving her a regular schedule of tasks to complete at home. I do hope, however, that I can plan some things just for fun with her and the boys, and that she can handle them with advance notice and the all-important visual supports.

I'll also have to arrange some playdates for the kids. Playing with each other is all well and good, but they all could use some social time with other kids, too.

I'll get on that as soon as I'm in the white-space part of the June calendar.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Last week I bought myself a little present: a digital voice recorder that can download recordings to my computer. Today, I used it for the first time, and actually was able to record, download, change file type, send files to my students and even import them into my iTunes!

I amaze myself.

This means that my poor voice students don't need to rely on analog cassettes any more; I can record their lessons and just send them the recordings via email. I can record accompaniments for them to practice with and they can put them on their iPods. I could even burn CDs!

I think it was $30 well spent.