Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Girls/Boys Just Want to Have Fun

Next time, I promise a deep and meaningful post...not sure what I have in my mind right now that is either, but hopefully I can find something in the cobwebs.

But for now.... I just have to document all the fun the kids are having, and ask why is it that the kids always have more fun during the summer than the adults. My kids have golf games, jumping parties, ice cream cones, splash and jumping contests and, of course, Championship Games to Win!

All the while the mother continues with the drudgery of laundry, cleaning, driving said kids to fun events, and making sure that the pantry and fridge are stocked with great meals, healthy snacks, and Gatorade.

Here is just a sample of some of our recent fun...

C at a recent game-fielding a grounder for an out. Great 2nd Baseman.

His team won the 12 year-old team Championship this weekend-Tbey never lost a game in the tournament.

Way to Go!!!

Eating Ice Cream after two days of swimming, boating and having fun with the neighbors at the Lake. A's cone was chocolate dipped, but she couldn't get the dip off and eat the ice cream. Dad to the rescue with a dish and spoon.

There is just something about Ice Cream from a small town walk up Ice Cream Store.

M's softball team had their year-end party at PUMP IT UP here in town. It was a fun evening of jumping, rock climbing and having huge belly laughs. Good thing we had the pizza and pop after the jumping.
We have a lot more summer fun planned in the weeks ahead. I'm thinking that I might even plan a fun outing with some other moms; we'll call it "Mom's Sanity Night".

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jumping In...

M Ready to Catch the Football-Jumping off the Dock

C creates an "air pocket" underwater. Don't try this at home.

A would really like to drive the boat....Please Papa!
We had a great Father's Day at the Lake. The weather was balmy but the water was chilly and the fun never ending.
Memories. Precious Memories.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wear Them Out: My Summer Plan

The heat has finally arrived in our state. It's beginning to feel a little bit more like Summer around here. Considering that over the last week I've worn a sweater, sweatshirt and jeans on a regular basis, I'd say I'd happy to see the temps rise above 65.

My summer plan is now in full force. We are going to wear ourselves out. Stay active, do things, and then crash at the end of the day.

Last week, it was Boy Scout Camp and VBS. This week, we've attended the summer library program at our school including volunteering for service hours, gone to the city library, gone on walk (or "forced march" as some in my family call it) on the walking trail, gone to a baseball game, and the zoo. To top it off, we have had two baseball and one softball game this week along with cooling off at the pool with friends.

Why so busy? So my kids don't kill each other. So they go to bed at a reasonable time. So that we get as much out of the few weeks we have together as possible. We've planned a low key summer as our vacation will be to our family lake home nearby combined with a few side trips so we need to keep the activity up to keep the boredom away.

We are a much happier family when we are not climbing all over our walls or staring at each other all day long. We always try to be home for meals, bath, and bedtime, but we like to stay busy with fun activities so that by 9:00 PM, the kids are exhausted. We have a set reading and chore time each day too, but we also have lots of time set aside to have fun and be busy.

I know some of my "younger mom friends" wonder why we stay so busy.

With no nappers in the family anymore, we can do things without having to rush home to take a rest or get a baby down for a nap. This is the first summer, we've actually gone to the pool during the hours of 2 and 4 PM as those used to be reserved for nap times.

Most of the things we are doing are also low dollar events. We aren't going to movie or an amusement park every week. We are just enjoying our memberships at museums, the pool and the library while throwing in a few trips planned out to "things and events".

There are also days like today when we are home more catching up on chores, getting things ready for the weekend, having Popsicles on the back deck. We go with the flow. Some days we create fun, other days the fun just happens hanging out together.

More than anything, I'm trying to create some summer memories. Soon C will be too old to "hang out with mom". He'll be off doing things with friends or having a part time job. I want to cram in everything I can with the all three kids as long as possible.

Wearing ourselves out is just how our family rolls.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Ever Happened to the Low Key Dance Recital?

I loved to dance as a little girl. My mother says that I would refuse to buy dresses unless they first passed the twirl test. The better the twirl and the movement of the dress the better.

I took Ballet classes in the basement of one of my mother's oldest friends' house. They had converted the basement into a Dance Studio with a large wall of mirrors, a Ballet Barre, and wooden floors.

Recitals were in that very same basement. Costumes were a leotard, a tutu, and tights. Nothing fancy.

I remember when I was in 2nd grade and the lead dancer in my Saturday morning class got the chicken pox during the week of the recital. Lead dancer in my mind only. She was the girl I watched so I could remember the steps. She was not going to be in the recital. Too sick.

My stomach was sick thinking that I would actually have to know the dance myself. It all worked out fine and I later learned everyone else was watching me for the steps. By the time we had cookies and lemonade after the recital in that very same basement, my butterflies had gone away and I was having fun.

Dance was fun. The girls were fun to be with. Recitals were a chance to show our parents what we'd been learning. We were thrilled to perform for our small group of parents. No stress. Low cost. I still remember all the Ballet Positions.

M has been taking dance for 7 years. She does not know what first position is today. Dance no longer stresses the classical ballet movements.

I'm struggling with what to do about Dance and M in the years ahead.

Our studio's recital was this weekend. It was at a Big Theater Downtown. A huge stage that normally has productions from Broadway, the local Opera etc. I saw "Wicked" just weeks ago in this very theater. This weekend's recital was a big production.

We had to be at Dress Rehearsal Friday at 3:00. Little A, who was in only one number besides the Finale, was in dance #38. She didn't go on stage until 6:45. Yep. Parents were not even allowed out in the front of the house to watch the Dress Rehearsal. We had to stay backstage the entire time unless our girls were on stage performing and then we could quickly run out front watch and then run backstage once again. Very little time for photos.

M was in a total of 8 dances, 8 costume changes, and 8 hairstyle changes. Plus the Finale. That's a lot of costumes people. Yes, she'd already performed 3 of the dances year round at dance competitions and knew them by heart, but she still had to perform a jazz, tap, ballet and all competition opening number.

We had to be back at the Theater Saturday at 2:45 for a 4:00 Recital that ended at 6:30. ( I won't even talk about the softball game at 9 a.m. or the end of VBS on Friday at 12:00.

Where has that "little basement with the cookies and lemonade recital" gone? It seems like everything has to be big and flashy. Are we no longer satisfied with the things on a small scale?

A few of the little girls I saw had been to get their hair done for the recital. Girls had on more makeup and glitter than I've worn in my entire life. They were done up. Not just so they wouldn't look pale under the stage lights, but for the glamor effect.

A few of the dances and the costumes made me happy that C was still at his baseball game and didn't have to watch girls dressed like that or dancing in ways that made me blush a little.

We go to a pretty conservative studio I thought. M and A's costumes were cute and the dances very appropriate, but I noticed that some of the hip hop and older girls are doing things that I'm not sure I feel comfortable with.

Tomorrow are the try outs for the next year's competition teams. M of course wants to go. I'm really struggling. Not only is competition dance a huge commitment of time, money and resources; I'm really wondering what message I'm sending to M with all this dance.

Will her body image be impacted by how the other girls look? Will she want to loose weight, dress in a certain way or listen to music I might not approve because the other girls are? She's perfect the way she is, but she'll never have that tiny ballet body. She's a good dancer, but she's not a superstar.

What about standing up for our values/our faith/ our standards? Can I claim one thing at home and then turn the other way when it comes to costumes, recitals, dance moves? Am I able to impact that a woman is more than her body when she sees all those competition dances moving and shaking and grooving their booties on stages?

Tell me again what happened to that basement dance studio with the strict teacher, first position, stretching, pointing toes and plies?

For the opening number of the Recital all levels of Competition Girls were dancing with halter top tank tops and black shorts. M was the only girl wearing long Justice Shorts. Everyone else wore "booty shorts." I had first sent her in softball/soccer shorts and the teacher said no they had to be all black/ no Adidas name on the back etc. So we got M a pair of shorts that she can wear whenever she wants. Black Shorts that are walking short length . While she's allowed to wear short shorts for sleeping and wearing over swimsuits, she can't wear booty shorts for anything.

My theory is that if they don't cover your entire "t.sh," they are underwear not shorts!

So how do I balance all of this? Do we quit dance all together? Do we cut back to just a ballet and tap class and opt out of the recital? Do we again look for a new studio?

M loves to dance. She's danced her whole life, all the time. To music, no music. She dances to the credits of a movie when they play a long song. She and A are always putting on little dances for us.

A wants to try Soccer in the fall. She's not a dancer. Really she's not a performer like M. She liked the dance class because she could see some friends and have some fun. She liked the Recital, but she didn't love it!

Stay tuned for more discussion on this and feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

VBS: Very Busy Summer

This is Vacation Bible School week (VBS) at our church. My girls are having a blast. Between having nightly sleepovers in M's room and full mornings of fun, they are tired. In addition, it's dance recital week and grandparents arriving later this week from out of town and we are busy. We are looking forward to a fun weekend with ball games for both kids, the recital, and visiting. Of course, the best part will be that C will return home Saturday morning from Boy Scout Camp.

The moment C left for Boy Scout Camp on Sunday, A cried. However, she quickly realized that this might mean sleepovers every night in M's room. Somehow they have made the assumption that they can only sleepover when brother is gone. I'm not going to debunk this rumor!

I'm working VBS this week, organizing the outside recreation or Gator Games as they are called. I was thinking outdoor games would result in a great tan, but the weather has been in the 60's with lots of clouds, drizzle and breezes. Let's just say that tomorrow they are forecasting storms for the day and I'm dreading finding space in the church for the "inside games".

On top of that, organizing and setting up games for kids 3 to 11 is exhausting. There is always more time than games, weather issues that prohibit certain activities, and supplies that should last for 3 groups which end up making it through one group. I came home yesterday with a hoarse voice from talking to 240 kids. As I have said before, I don't know how teachers do it every day.

At times like this I wish I could be a "spectator parent"at these events. While there are some very legitimate reasons why parents can't volunteer or help with programs like VBS or numerous other programs, it seems like everywhere I go it's the same core people doing the work. While at times, I want to be the drop and go parent, the reality of what I'd miss out comes back to me and I realize that they are the ones missing out. I sometimes feel that way with C's Boy Scout activities since my husband handles that one for us and I am rarely involved.

Yesterday, at Games, both girls ran up and gave me huge hugs. They were so thrilled that their mom was helping out. Today, the same story. I know that I'm doing this for them. We can come home together, laugh about the skit together, and belt out the lyrics with the VBS song's CD together.

But still sometimes I wonder...Why did I think we were taking it easy this summer? When does that start?

I'm hoping next week we can just take it easy, with lots of pool time and some great family walks. Who knows now that I've become an expert on Outdoor Games maybe I will take the kids to the park and organize the neighborhood kids for some freeze tag, silly string wars and blanket races. Not!!

Next year, I'm volunteering for ______ Duty. I think after almost 10 years of helping with VBS at various churches I deserve a cush job. I'm not telling you what it is so that I can make sure and beat the rush for next year!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Nothing Is Mundane Around Here: Laughs, Giggles and "Gas"

Not a great title I know. I was a history major, not a journalism major. Sometimes the crazy mundane things of life just make me laugh. I'll admit that it's totally random, but so is my life right now!!

Yesterday, we went to the Children's Museum for about 1.5 hours at the end of the day. It was a spur of the moment idea as it's been a little chilly and cloudy here lately. We had a late softball game and afternoon dance so in between we took off downtown.

On the Front Steps of Sesame Street . I need to find this same picture 4 years ago when another Sesame Street Exhibit was in town and we took a kids picture on it's steps too.

While C is getting a little too old for the place, we had a great time with little to no crowd. The Sesame Street traveling exhibit was fun. It was on the human body.

There was one portion of the exhibit that my kids especially enjoyed. We spent alot of time at the "Everyone Poops" Exhibit. There was even canned tooting coming from the machine and visual effects. This is just what three stir crazy kids needed.

The poop machine and the fabulous poster...

Can I just say I'm not sure how mother's with multiple boys do it. I'm sure the "body function jokes" really abound in your home.

On the way home in rush hour traffic, we were listening to the Jonas Brothers CD. The original one. We have favorite songs #1, #9, #13 and #14. If you hear #9 coming from the backseat, it means turn to forward ahead to that song.

Yesterday I heard this comment. "Isn't Joe so funny?" said A.
"Who is Joe?" said C.
" You know Joe Jonas, isn't he so funny." said A.

This was seriously just out of the blue. We'd not been talking about the Jonas Brothers, just singing along with their CD. We all thought she was talking about some Sesame Street Character considering where we had just been. No she was talking about her favorite Jonas Brother!

Yes, she is 4. Don't judge me. It's hard to keep them away from the big boy bands when they have older siblings. We can't listen to the Wiggles in our car or the older children would revolt. We listen to KLOVE, Toby Mac and Chris Tomlin along with an occasional Jonas Brothers or George Strait. It's all about cultural diversity.
Dance pictures were the other day. M is in 7 dances and A is in her first recital. Thankfully, both girls had pictures on the same day. Of course, it was a two hour ordeal with a lot of changing. Those of you with girls and dance understand what I am talking about. M has been dancing for the last 6 years and this was the first time anyone ever game me the idea of double tights. Instead of taking the tan jazz tights off for the ballet picture and trying to get pink tights on hot legs, we doubled up and put them over. Pure Genius, I tell you!!!

A was so excited to be there, and watch the "big girls" practice their dances and change clothes. Poor C had to come up for the last 15 minutes and wait outside in his baseball uniform as he had a late game across town and my husband was at a meeting. I think he's thankful everyday that he is a boy!!
**** Finally if you know our family in real life, or just on the blog, would you please be praying for C over the next week. He is off to Boy Scout Camp on Sunday for a week. Last year, while he was there, a tornado touched down at another Boy Scout Camp and killed 4 boys. He spent a few hours huddled in a "tornado shelter of sorts" riding out the storm with the entire camp. He was safe, but his whole camp was aware of the loss/destruction at the other camp. We've been praying for calm cool weather next week. It's going to be a great week of fishing, camping, and space exploration, but moms do worry about the weather. Thank you.