My Summer Goals for My Kids…

This summer my goal is to keep my kids physically active and to keep up their reading.

My goal is to get them moving at least 5 km most days.

And I want them to read out loud a bit each day as well as read alone every day.

Today we walked 6 km.  And on the drive both ways they took turns reading stories.  Guess my work is done.

I am doing my best to put away technology and to enjoy the world at our fingertips.

Parks and playgrounds I  hope will be our habit this summer.  And I hope reading and conversations will help us build our relationships and enjoy our limited time together.

When we all look back in the years to come I hope we all remember a summer of fun in the sun and activity that kept us busy all day long and into the night!

The time we have left as a family is short and I want to treasure every moment!

Confluence Park…

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Confluence Park is a place we go to several times a week. The pathway in front of our home takes us right there. It is a flat walk along nose hill pathway to arrive at the natural park.
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It has a dog park adjoining it on the Beddington side.
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Don’t let its busy borders of Deerfoot trail and Beddington Blvd and Harvest Hills Blvd scare you away.
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Even on the noisier edges of the park the nature can be clearly heard.

There are dozens of species of birds and frogs and bugs and animals waiting to be heard. This park isn’t super busy. You encounter a group of people every few minutes. Frequently enough to not feel completely isolated, but not often enough to interrupt your thoughts and peace.
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The bridges and water are really all my kids need. There really is something about bridges that is rather magical. And in this park there are many! My son especially loves to play eeyore’s twig game over the bridge.
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The beauty surrounding you as walk the paths here is phenomenal. I find this park exceptionally relaxing and peaceful. It is my favorite place to walk with family!
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Marshmallow Shooter Hack… As Seen on FaceBook

Tonight I was browsing Facebook and came across a toilet paper roll hack video.  One of the hacks was a marshmallow shooter.

As a reward for helping clean the kitchen late at night my daughter and I made one.

She had a blast.  Even after we didn’t have any marshmallows.  Even when my mom brain said “no’ to her suggestion of a walnut substitution.  Probably the dads would have said “yes”.  Instead we used cheerios.

In our green space across from our house at 10:30 at night we had fun!

Total cost….zero.  total fun….in her words “real fun!”

Instructions

Take a balloon.  Cut off the bottom skinny part.  Stretch balloon over toilet paper opening   blow lightly into other side of toilet paper roll to open up balloon.  Drop in marshmallow or substitute.  Pull balloon back and release.

This Russian guy also used marbles and said it could be a weapon against wild animals in an emergency….not so sure about that….but it is a ton of free fun!

I think we may make these at my son’s birthday party this summer!

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School Supplies….

For the last number of years I have spent the first day of summer sorting school supplies.  Some years I do it after their last half day of school.  Some years the next day.

This year it was the next day.  The kids and I just spent 2 hours sorting through their old school supplies.  We have to throw away the dead markers and pens and what not.  Then we look at the supply lists and start sorting their supplies into their reusable shopping bag.  Some supplies are transfered to siblings who need them.  And overall it is a very efficient way to maximize our supplies and eliminate waste.

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This year was an interesting one.  3 kids no longer get supply lists, so we make our own…based on previous experience.  And the other 2 with lists, well they needed very little that we didn’t have.  Most of what they did need we had in our school supply bin.

When all was said and done the 2 little ones need very little.  A couple boxes of kleenex and ziploc bags and some new pencil cases and wet wipes and of course blank paper for art and projects and more blank paper for photocopying.  All told probably $15 or less between them both.

The older 3 need a bit more, but not much.  Between all 5 I am guessing I can get by with somewhere between $30 and $50.

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So, the school supplies are packed and ready to store away for 2 months.  And everything is labeled and sorted.  The kleenex  and paper will wait a few weeks.

The school shoes are bought for 3, back a few months ago when there was an amazing clearance sale and then buy one get one free on top of that.

So, with that onerous chore out of the way….let the summer holidays begin!

No Child Prodigies Live Here…

OK, before I begin this, I will say that I think I need to take a Facebook break for awhile.  And what I’m about to say will likely offend some readers.  However, 3 hours of sleep last night has perhaps helped me to write this entry honestly.

This blog is one that has been simmering in the back of my brain for a very long time.

Everyday it seems like I go on Facebook and read about someone’s amazing child.  Someone’s child prodigy.  A child who has such amazing intellect or athletic or musical abilities.  A child whose abilities outshine all others.

And it annoys me.  Yes.  I said it.  It totally annoys me.  And honestly some posts are bang on and your child is truly amazing and gifted.  And some are exaggerated because you need your child to be more than normal.  You can’t feel truly adequate and successful as a parent unless your child is somehow better than every other child.

I fall into this strange Facebook area.  I try very hard not to exaggerate my children’s accomplishments and at the same time show them and others how proud of them I am.  I can honestly say I don’t know where that line is between  being proud and sharing that; and sharing with friends and family what my children are doing, and going to far and somehow exaggerating their accomplishments to simply help validate me as a mom.

Sometimes I need a pat on the back and someone to say “good job.”  Sometimes one child is causing me such distress that I need to feel success with another.

But, then I try to remember all the other parents who are having the same “normal” struggles we all have,and usually hide, with our kids.

I try to remember the mom from my son’s play group who was so concerned that her little guy wasn’t talking more at 14 months because everyone else had stories of all that their same age children were saying….not that she could witness these amazing accomplishments because they mysteriously took place at home where no one else could witness them.

I don’t want to leave another mom worried about her child’s development because I needed to brag about my child’s slightly exaggerated achievements.

I aim to be happy with “normal” kids.  Kids who just fit into the middle of the pack.  Kids who occasionally have a talent or ability that will shine and bring them to the front, but who are really in every single way just average kids.

What is wrong with average?  What is wrong with delayed?  Is my daughter less worthy or less loved because she was 3 grades behind in reading.  Is my other daughter more loved because she was grades ahead in reading?

Even as I write this I find myself drawn into the desire to defend my “normal” kids.  To bring to your attention their immense successes and to brush aside their immense failures.

Is my son any less loved because he was in the principal’s office 3 times in the last week because he couldn’t control his big emotions?  Am I a worse mother because I was in the principal’s office 3 times in the last week?

As parents I think we need to stand up and support each other.  We need to reach out and encourage each other.  We need to be open and honest and vulnerable and not hide our children’s imperfections.

When our children are grown it probably won’t be the things that they were so amazingly gifted at that will serve them best.  It will, more than likely, be the things that they struggled with the most.  The ugly things that we tried to hide from the world, that will serve them the best.

I can honestly say that from my perspective at this moment, as a mother of 5 very different children, that I can see how the immense struggles of one will serve her incredibly.  My daughter who struggled with reading for years and with help finally overcame it; learned through her struggles empathy and compassion.  She learned to help unquestioningly.  And she learned that to overcome was really hard work.  She has a work ethic and study habits that far surpass those of her siblings without the same struggles.

I encourage you to celebrate your child’s achievements and accomplishments.   I truly do.

But also have the foresight to see that by allowing them to struggle and by helping them to overcome their struggles on  their own; you have accomplished far more for their long term future.  You have helped develop their character.  And while dance and running and piano and math and reading accomplishments are amazing….it is their character that makes a person outstanding.

I want my adult children to grow up to live compassionately.  Compassion  is developed in the fires of failure.

I want my adult children to grow up eager to lend a hand.  A passion for helping others is developed as our children experience how help from others can transform their lives and lead to such otherwise unattainable success.

And I want my children to be adults who are good friends.  Good friends learn how to be good friends in the fires of interpersonal relationships.  When their friend on playground is mean and unkind and says or does hurtful things, after the tears dry and in the mending of the relationship they learn to be a good friend.

I do not have perfect children.  I do not have amazing children.  I do not have any child prodigy living in my house.

I do have children  who I am extremely proud of.  Children who struggle and achieve.   Children who fail and triumph.  Children who are slowly using their “normal” childhood to develop, I hope – extraordinary character.

The honest truth….the child I am most proud of right now isn’t the child with the best marks or most academic successes.  It isn’t my child with the strongest relationships or most amazing talents.

The honest truth…the child I am most proud of right now is the one with the most failures.  The one with the most relationship issues and with the least easily visible successes.  The child who, to most observers, is least successful and simply is full of trouble.  This child doesn’t stand out in a crowd, unless he’s poked someone and they’ve told.  He doesn’t shine brighter than every child or dance and sing better.

This child though, through his struggles and his pain is developing an inner character and depth that I can only hope will have him shining to the world when he is grown.  He is learning lessons about failure and mistakes and forgiveness that many other children don’t get the opportunity to learn as deeply.  He is learning compassion and empathy and help; because without people around him showing him these things, he would go down a path that would be dark and sad and lonely and not at all encouraging his personal growth and development.

So, I will continue to struggle with being honest in praising my children’s accomplishments and not cross the line of making them better or more.  And I will struggle with finding ways to encourage my successful children to not be satisfied with “good enough” and to continue to strive for personal bests that are better and not at the same time get stuck in the trap of never feeling like they are good enough.  For other children I will struggle with the feeling of somehow having let them down and not helped them enough to reach their potential.   I will struggle with feeling like I didn’t help them enough.

But at the end of the day I will do my best to remember that I am raising adults of great character and not kids of great accomplishments.

And along the journey I will continue to celebrate with those celebrating and mourn with the down hearted.  I will encourage and lift up the weary and try to help them continue on their long long journey that at times can seem helpless and full of so little celebration and so much struggle. I will try to shine light and hope that on the days we struggle most we need simply to remember that these are the things that are most successfully building the character we desire our adult children to have. And with this hope, brings perspective and energy to continue the long journey of raising up adult children of great character….

Never give up, never lose hope.  It is never too late and this too shall pass…

This success and this struggle and this failure shall all pass…what do you want to be left behind in your child when they do?