On the First Day of Summer Vacation

Yesterday was our first, official, scheduled day of summer vacation. (The boys got out of school last week, but I gave them a couple of free days). So, by 9 am, when I rolled out of bed (I LOVE my sleep), the big boys were dressed, had eaten and fed their younger brother, they'd cleaned their mess in the kitchen, wiped down the bathrooms, cleaned their rooms, made their beds, brushed their teeth and hair and were enjoying some screen time. Which meant that by the time I got up, I had very little to do before we could get on with the fun of the day. Last summer I was determined to have some structured, fun filled, summer days, so I made a big schedule on a piece of poster board and taped it up in the kitchen. That way, the boys could easily check and see what was going on that day or what to expect next. It worked so well, and with one day down, I have great hopes of another fabulous summer. So, just in case your summer days are filled with tv, chaos and getting nothing done, I thought I'd share our schedule with you.

7:00- 9:00 (as in they are up at 7 and me at 9) -wake up-
get dressed/hair/teeth
eat breakfast

-screen time-

12:00 -Lunch time-
-Learning time- (reading, work books, letter writing)

-Play time-
(no screens)
(sometimes we'll have scheduled activities here. today we made shrinky dinks. but I also have science projects, forts to paint and build, etc. But, most of the time, it's unstructured play time)

6:00 -Dinner time-
(evening jobs)

One day every week, we go on an outing. They are all planned out and include: local hikes, zoo, the movies, Children's museum, Aquarium, Reptile Zoo, Bounce house, parks, etc)

And one day a week, I hire a babysitter. Because I deserve to get a pedicure once in a while, but mostly because 3 kids + the grocery store= no fun. We are all happier that way.

They all have jobs, because we are a family and we all work together. To see how the job rewards work, you can read The Value of a Gem. Here are the jobs:

Make Bed
Clean room
Unload dishwashes
Wipe down upstairs bathroom
Practice piano
Sweep kitchen (evening job)

Make Bed
Clean room
Unload silverware
wipe down downstairs bathroom
practice piano
clear dinner table (evening job)

Make bed (with mom's help)
Clean up toys
wipe off dinner table (evening job)

When their is structure, work and fun, summer is better. The fun happens and the house still stands. We hope your summer is as great as ours.

Whaddya think?


A New Normal

For my friends...

Sometimes in life, an event so catastrophic occurs that it is life changing. You will never look at things the same way; life will never again be "normal". For many of us, 9/11 was like this. Those of us who lived through 9/11 will never again have that feeling of invincibility that we had before. Those of us deeply affected, will always have a greater sense of country and a desire to support those who fight for our freedom. We will never fly on an airplane without remembering those who gave their life to save thousands of others.

It is in the aftermath of these life changing events that we begin to realize who we really are, what we truly believe in and who we can ultimately rely on. From the ashes of the aftermath, we gather the fibers of what is left and we begin to build our new normal. With the passing of time and with the love and support and comfort of those who love us most, we begin to repair the damage that has been done and re piece together our lives. The cracks will always show and the damage will never be forgotten, but eventually, we will be happy again. We will find a way to live with the sorrow the event has caused and do good with our lives again.

It is like open heart surgery. Our chest has been ripped open and our heart has been taken out. But, we are given a new heart, or a repaired heart, that can beat and supply us with the life sustaining force we need. Our chest is repaired and stitched and we have weeks of intense recovery. Which is followed by months and sometimes years of therapies and support. But, eventually, we do recover. Our chest will never look the same again and we will always be reminded of the journey we have traveled, but we will be able to love and laugh and live again.

I am sorry if you are among the numbered that has been through such an event. It changes us in ways that can't be seen by the natural eye. But, in the end, if we just keep swimming, we become stronger. I was taught to swim when I was a little girl, and there have been many times in life when I can only tread water. Sometimes, I even need a life vest. But, I am determined to stay afloat. There is no logical reason to have a contact in my phone for my mother, but even after 25 years, I need that number there, even if it is a number to no where. Because having a contact to her, is sometimes my way of staying afloat.

And remember through it all, that it is after the darkest of storms that we are blessed with the most brilliant rainbows.

If you have been through such an event, and are having a hard time treading water, I would be happy to listen and love you through it. Email me.

Whaddya think?