Thursday, June 28, 2012

What To Do When It's Hot and There's Nothing To Do

Suggestion One:  Wash the Car.


The first few days of summer vacation were rather aimless.  Many of my children's friends had gone away on mini-breaks and sailing lessons weren't scheduled to begin until the following week.  It usually takes our family about two weeks until we get into the perfect summer rhythm, so sadly, the first seven days of vacation usually include a lot of complaining and an over-abundance of the phrase, "I'm so bored."  

I've learned that not all children are born with what my sister and I call "Inner Resources" - the ability to entertain themselves.  Henry, Georgia and Josie do have inner resources;  it just takes them a while to remember what these resources are and how to use them.  

I know I'm not the only person who can't stand hearing a child - who just weeks ago complained that they never have any free time - declare that they are bored and have nothing to do.  My friend, Larisa, the mother of four children, has a perfect solution.  She put together a Chore Jar that holds pieces of paper, each clearly marked with a different household or family task.  When one of her children complains about being bored, Larisa has them go to the chore jar and pick out an assignment and get to work.  There's nothing like a little sweeping or laundry folding to make a child remember how to read a book or find a sister to play a game with!

I haven't made a chore jar, yet - mostly because I'm too lazy to find a jar let alone think of chores for my bored children to do.  Instead, I try to think of projects for the children to do that would be both fun and time-consuming while affording me the opportunity to sit and read my book.

The first project I came up with was washing the car.


I haven't had my car professionally washed since before Christmas.  My beloved Ivan is now seven years old and I'm tired of spending money on him.  There.  I've said it.  I'm completely over having him look shiny and new.  He is old and dusty and that's okay with me.  But that's not to say, that I wouldn't appreciate having a car that didn't rub dirt off on me every time I opened the door or put groceries in the trunk.  I invested in a jug of carwash solution and some sponges, told the girls to get on their bathing suits and get to work.

Permission to use the hose/sprayer?  Permission to make a soapy mess?

Terrific!  

Georgia and Josie got right to work.


It was a hot day and the cold water felt wonderful.  There was much soaping and much rinsing.


Once the car had been cleaned the first time, Georgia and Josie decided to go for Wash Number Two.

To get the car "really clean."



I'm pretty sure there was also a Wash Number Three and a Wash Number Four.  I didn't keep track.


I spent the time, sitting in a corner of the driveway, reading my book (a biography of Queen Elizabeth which I am not particularly enjoying even if the subject matter is one which I usually enjoy) and taking photos.  


I am never bored in the summer.  I absolutely love how we have Nothing To Do and Nowhere To Go. I love the opportunity to make last-minute plans and to be able to dash off at a moment's notice to a friend's house or to the pool for a quick swim.  

I absolutely love using my inner resources.


We have an incredibly long summer vacation this year and I couldn't be more thrilled.  I am going to have to come up with my Boring Day projects or else I'm going to have to make that chore jar after all. We'll see.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You Are Never Going To Believe This!


Josephine passed her deep water swim test!!!!!

I know!  I couldn't believe it, myself!  Just when we thought she might never muster up the courage - or the energy - to swim those two perfect, freestyle laps without stopping, Josie surprised us all by passing the test during a private swim lesson on Sunday evening.

She didn't even know she was taking the test!  Her teacher just said, very casually, "why don't you try swimming from this end to the other without stopping.  Just for practice."  And when Josie finished that lap, the teacher said "let's just swim back without stopping - just for fun."  And then when Josie got to back to the shallow end, her teacher yelled, "YOU PASSED!!!"


I didn't have my camera with me - I wasn't even paying attention because I was chatting to a friend I hadn't seen for a year - so, I waited until Josie got home and told Gordy, Georgia and Henry the good news to record the moment on film.

Josie did a celebratory dance!





and we all cheered.  It was a very, very wonderful moment.


Because her lesson was on a Sunday night when the pool office was closed, Josie had to wait until Monday morning to get her red arm tag.  We went inside the office when we dropped Henry off for sailing and Josie very proudly watched as the office manager recorded her name in the Test Book and handed her the coveted deep end bracelet.


This is more than just a monumentous moment for Josie, having my last child pass her deep end test changes my life, too.  I will no longer have to go out and sit by the pool whenever Josie wants to go off the diving board or swim in the deep end.  I may continue to join my children in the sun, occasionally, but it won't be mandatory any longer and that seems pretty neat.

It was thundering and lightening when we dropped Henry off at sailing this morning and we had 30 minutes to kill before Georgia got out of her sailing lesson and we could go home, so Josie and I went to the snack bar to grab something to eat.


And like a newly engaged woman, Josie found ample opportunities to move her arm around the air and show off her new ring - I mean red band.  It was very cute.  Oh!  Do you not know where the mustard is (dramatic whole arm point) - it's Over There!  Need me to open that door for you?  (dramatic whole arm movement)  No problem!  I'm happy to help!

I'm sure she will remember this moment her entire life!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Hornets Are Back...

but this time we were ready!

Gordy was changing a light bulb in our bathroom the other day, when he glanced out the window and noticed this:


The tiny beginning of a brand-new hornets' nest, clinging to the molding of our guest room's dormer window.  

You may remember the enormous, Winnie-the-Pooh-sized hornets' nest that we had to have professionally removed from outside our kitchen window last year, but if you don't, you can re-read about the ordeal by clicking here.

Luckily for us, this new hornets' nest was just getting started and it didn't appear to be holding any hornets yet.  In other words, we thought we might be able to handle this situation without writing an enormous check to Dale, the Bee Buster.


Gordy got out a long-pole lacrosse stick, opened the bathroom window and got to work:


A few strategic smacks of the lacrosse stick and the mini-nest was removed, and lying in a puddle in our gutter.


Good job, Gordy!



We did a more thorough inspection of the house and found another mini-hornets' nest back in the same spot as the gigantic hornets' frat house of last year, so Gordy knocked that one down as well. 

The nerve of these bees.  

I guess we have to employ Constant Vigilance from now on.  At least, for the time being, we have shown the stinging community that we have a large stick and we are not afraid to use it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another Swim Test Victory!


Georgia started sailing lessons this week and in order to be allowed to sail out onto the actual lake, all beginner sailors are required to take and pass the dreaded Sailing Swim Test.  The test involves getting into the pool dressed in a button-down, long-sleeve shirt, a pair of pants and boat shoes, swimming two lengths of the pool (fully clothed), stopping in the deep end and removing the shirt, pants and shoes while not drowning and then treading water for five minutes.  

Henry took the test four years ago and it was stressful to say the least.  I've barely recovered from the ordeal, which is saying a lot since, as the parent, I didn't even have to get into the pool.  I didn't worry so much about Georgia.  Watching Henry go through the test made Georgia better prepared, and she was a whole lot more calm about the situation.  The beginner sailors have until July 2 to pass the test, but Georgia wanted to get her test done as soon as possible.  She also wanted to take the test at an early hour so that there wouldn't be a thousand kids watching while she did it.

Did I forget to mention that these tests are done during the 15 minute adult-swims each hour and all the children hover around the side of the pool and watch each other's moments of victory or failure?  Nothing like a little added peer pressure to an already stressful occasion, huh?

We arrived at the pool a few minutes before 12 o'clock and Georgia got into her outfit.  She was joined by her beloved sailing partner, the very famous, Caroline and a few other girls who had advice to share.


As luck would have it, our friend Justin was taking his test at the same adult swim, so the testees stood together and looked over the course before the whistle was blown and all the kids got out of the water.

I had asked Georgia if it would be okay for me to take photos of her during the exam and she had given me her permission.  I watched her walk slowly to the deep end of the pool.


With the life guard watching, Georgia slipped into the water and immediately realized that swimming with long pants and a button-down shirt and shoes is not nearly as easy as swimming in just a bathing suit.


The first lap was rather torturous to watch.  Georgia looked like she was really struggling to move.  I think she thought she was moving but in actuality there was a great deal of staying in one place.

The life guard and I offered words of encouragement and she eventually made it to side:


You are allowed to rest for about 5 seconds between laps and Georgia used this time to ask about different types of strokes and suggestions on getting back to the deep end without drowning.


Georgia is always a fan of gathering as much information as possible.  

You will note that Georgia's oxford shirt is already unbuttoned and this is because we have learned many tricks along the way to make this test easier for the children.  When Henry struggled to pass the test, more than one parent came up to me with whispered suggestions.... cut the button holes to make it easier to unbutton.... remove the lining and all pockets from the pants to make them slide off quickly.... wear super big shoes so that they fall off in the water...

When Henry finally rustled up enough nerve to take his sailing swim test, his clothes all but fell off him before he even got to the treading water part of the exam.

I did the same sort of prep for Georgia and once she had all the clothes off, she was a MUCH happier person:


The first 30 seconds of the treading water portion were a breeze.


The next few seconds - a piece of cake.  I liked the above photo because it has both Georgia and Justin treading water with our friend Mark, swimming laps in the middle.  Good form, Mark!

Minute One was finished:


Minute two - still smiling:


Minute three - getting tired (and probably bored and wishing that she had a book to read):


Minute four - almost finished:


Minute five:  SUCCESS!


What a relief.  Georgia has now finished all three of her swim tests at our pool - the two annual deep water tests and the sail/swim test.  No more testing for Georgia!


Now these two... that's another story!

(Josie and her friend (and Caroline's sister), Dorothy, who both have all three tests ahead of them.  Sigh)  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Josie Joins The Lacrosse Ranks


This spring, Josie joined her father, sister and brother in picking up a stick and playing the noble game of lacrosse....

which means that in this lacrosse-loving family, I am the cheese who stands alone.

Josie played her first (second and third) lacrosse game(s) at a tournament on Sunday and the whole family went along to cheer her efforts.




Oh, it was so cute.  Josie - a self-described hater of running - actually ran the entire time and she played a mean game of defense including a dramatic interception of the ball:


She was positively BEAMING (the above is an actual photo taken mili-seconds after the interception).

The below photo is a personal favorite of Josie's as it looks like she is being checked on the head by her opponent (she wasn't, it's just an optical illusion):



For the last game of the day, Josie volunteered to play goalie - the position her father played in high school and college and the position that her brother plays on one of his lacrosse teams.

Gordy went to the sidelines to help Josie suit up:


and now prepare yourself for a ridiculous amount of adorable.

Behold:


But wait!  It gets even more adorable!  The cuteness is about to get unbearable!  Josie, apparently, has been paying attention during the many games she has watched Henry play over the years, and so when she found herself suited up and standing in the goal, she imitated every last goalie stance she had ever seen and took the whole experience up a notch with her intense level of concentration:


And within five minutes she had saved not one....



but two potential goals!!! 


Josie was on fire!  

At this age (under 9), the girls take turns playing goalie, so at half-time, it was another girl's chance to protect the net and Josie returned to the field.  At the end, all the girls were exhausted but happy.


We took a photo of their team to remember their first year of lacrosse.  It was a season to remember!

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