ALBUS Grade seven, new school, French immersion, with lots of clubs and teams to join (looking forward to seeing what he’ll gravitate toward). Rep soccer: tryouts for next season start Sept. 21, with a commitment of 1-2 practices a week, plus skills (Kevin likely to coach). Piano: weekly lessons plus practice time. Passed Rookie Patrol this summer, so he’s free from swim lessons til next summer (that was our deal).
APPLE-APPLE Grade six, enrichment program (lots of homework). Rep soccer: tryouts for next season start Sept. 21, with a commitment of 2-3 practices a week, plus skills, plus games. Swim team: six practices a week, including at 5:30 AM, Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus monthly meets (good thing I’m already comfortable rising early; too bad she’s not!). Piano: weekly lessons plus practice time. Horse riding lessons: what she wants to spend her summer babysitting money on, if she can find the time to squeeze one more thing in!
FOOEY Grade three, French immersion. Will walk to and from school, and be in charge of her brother one way. Beginner gymnastics (her choice). Weekly piano lessons plus practice time (my choice). Swim lessons (maybe). Indoor house league soccer (probably, especially if Kevin coaches). Oodles of time with friends (my prediction).
CJ Senior kindergarten: full days, every day. Plans to walk to school with Fooey and ride the bus home. Early childhood music, weekly. Swim lessons (probably). Indoor soccer (definitely, and Kevin will coach).
COACH KEVIN Soccer, soccer, soccer, and more soccer. Well, what did you expect? Plus work, all day, every day, with occasional weekend training sessions. Oh, and late-night hockey (almost forgot about that!). Making school lunches (bless him) and breakfast smoothies.
CARRIE Teaching Thursday evenings, 6-9. Writing daily, 9-3ish. Early morning exercise: weights, spin, running, swimming, yoga. Napping (often). Cooking supper (in harried fashion). Laundry. Driving children to activities and making carpool and carshare arrangements. Preparing weekly schedules to maintain all-family sanity. Readings (here and there). Indoor soccer (maybe). Poetry book club, monthly.
SUZI AND DJ Walks (twice daily). Naps (in office). Food (twice daily, plus treats).
ALL FAMILY (Couldn’t find a photo that included me, too.) Family skating/hockey, weekly, organized by Kevin. Bedtime reading (chapter books, out loud), as often as possible. Also considering: church (occasionally), supper invitations to friends and family (must make time for this!), and planning a trip together.
We visited Kev’s family for the long weekend. Lucky for us, they live just down the road from this spectacular tourist attraction: Jones’ Falls locks on the Rideau Canal. That’s a view of one of the locks, above, and it’s on top of the hill, with this big reservoir that feeds the lower locks (not pictured). The reservoir is a great place to swim. Even when it’s not that hot out.
The kids had fun getting me to photograph them jumping in.
Then we tried to get everyone jumping in at once. CJ had to think about it for awhile. He had a lot of encouragement.
Here we go!
(Kevin and I swam too, but no one got photos of that, which was probably a good thing, since I insisted on wearing my swim cap and goggles. My swim cap is bright orange. Every time I put it on, I wonder why I chose that colour??)
And now for some obligatory adorable cousins-together photos. C’mon, you know you want to say awwwww.
The weekend’s entertainment also included a round of par-three golf (Kev and the older kids), a 21.6km run on a gorgeous trail (me, with Kev accompanying on bicycle), and a whole lot of backyard badminton and soccer (pictured below).
Goodbye, farm. We’re headed home to new adventures that must wait for another day’s telling.
I’ll miss this routine, now that we’re done: riding our bikes to swim lessons every morning for the past two weeks. Fooey is a demanding task-master who had us out the door early every day, with much grumbling and foot-dragging (on my part). This kid! She is so impressively punctual and organized. I started to sympathize with how the kids must feel as I urge them, constantly, to ready themselves and exit the house: I didn’t want to go yet! I still had things to do! I hadn’t even gotten a sip of my coffee! But, no, Fooey insisted: We are leaving and NOW!
I’ll miss the routine and seeing them paddling in the pool, but I won’t miss drinking cold coffee. Or the endless visits to the bathroom (that rec centre has an instant laxative effect on my youngest — seriously, we just have to walk through the door and he’s making his announcement about where we must go immediately, and why.)
The older kids were very independent and biked together, not with us, except for the last day when we all had a snack afterward (hot chocolate, french fries, a bag of chips, and a handful of multi-coloured banana candies from the 25 cent machine). Then we biked to the library together, and home. With five of us on bicycles, I felt like a mama duck leading her family along treacherous roadways, on the look-out for danger.
Here is babysitter AppleApple, post-swim, preparing a picnic to take to the park. Behind her, observe her little brother in the midst of a meltdown because he does not want to go to the park for a picnic. He will not go! He hates both picnics and parks! Etc. Well, somehow she got him there. I’ve been hugely impressed and gratified and proud of my kids as both babysitters and babysats (picnic meltdown notwithstanding). Lunches are being planned and prepared independently, I’m writing alone in my office without being disturbed, and there are no electronic devices involved whatsoever. Sure, I’m doing more laundry due to wet/sandy/muddy clothing, and no one appears to have taken up vacuuming, but these are tiny details.
With responsibility comes power, with power comes freedom? I just keep telling my kids how great they are.
So here’s how our week started: I signed my kids up for swim lessons at the wrong pool, failing to notice my error until two of the kids were stranded at the wrong pool, all by themselves, having biked over with their dad who then went on to work. I was to join them with the younger kids awhile later, and we’d all bike home together. I was in the kitchen packing my backpack when the phone rang. Daughter at pool. “Why are you calling?!” (This can’t be good!) “Mom, you signed us up for the Swimplex!” “What?! Oh no!”
And they were right. I had. There’s a first time for everything, this not being a mistake I’ve made ever before.
They missed their lesson. Instead, they biked safely home together, despite having to manage a detour around construction on their route. (I only heard about this long after the fact.) I biked with the little kids to the Swimplex (they did not miss their lesson). All was well.
Conclusion: My children seem to know how to manage. This is good.
That’s what we’re up to this week: swim lessons in the morning, big kids babysitting in the afternoon. I’ve been working on revisions on the novel and prepping for my teaching gig this fall.
Canada Day was weirdly productive. I sat down and read through the entire novel manuscript, which really needed to be done. I hadn’t touched it since February, so my editing eyes were very clear, and I’m positively teeming with solutions. I starting backwards, and just letting myself take whatever route feels right. Writing new scenes seems to be what’s coming first.
I also gave both boys a haircut. And vacuumed.
We’ve been biking everywhere. It’s hot.
I’m back to running again, tentatively testing out the ankle with short, slow runs aided by an ankle brace. I’ll test it further during a soccer game tonight. Wish me luck. I’ve taken a risk and signed up for the Run for the Toad this fall (25km trail run I’ve done the past two years).
We stayed up awfully late at my brother’s birthday party last night, enjoying pizza, cake, and feats of strength by both my daughters. (The eldest picked up pretty much every party guest, I kid you not. I’m talking adults here. She went around the room.) So that was fun. And we could sleep in this morning, at least somewhat. I could hardly open my eyes, however. I think I ate too many spicy dill pickles yesterday. Puffy. Salt-retention. Too much information.
Our mint is growing wild. I need to get more time in the pool. I coached Fooey’s soccer team on Tuesday evening.
I’m just listing things off here, can you tell? The minutiae. It’s all I’ve got.
Are summer holidays really only nine weeks long? I just counted, and it seemed short, so I counted again, and it was still only nine weeks.
I walked up to school on Wednesday to pick up CJ for his last day. And then we walked home and I was reminded how un-fun that walk home could be. Tired Kid + Mom = Complaining Every Step of the Way. What, no snacks? Water bottle empty? I can’t go on! Pick me up, or I shall stand here in the middle of the sidewalk and refuse to move, whilst pretending to cry.
And so, I actually carried him part of the way. It’s funny how Tired Kid – Mom = Temporary Prevention of Meltdown (until Mom appears on the scene). (Works the same, in our house, for Dad, too.) Maybe the kids lose a little bit of self-sufficiency when they know they’ve got back-up. They outsource their misery rather than carrying it themselves. I’m okay with that. Most of the time.
But I’m kind of glad he takes the bus most days and the older kids can walk themselves.
I also bought new sandals on Wednesday to replace the broken ones that lasted four years. And I swam at the 50 metre outdoor pool for the first time this summer: bliss! I’ve been biking, spinning, doing weights, and swimming to make up for not running. My ankle is nearly there, almost ready to be tested with a run.
Meanwhile, poor Albus got sick and spent the last few days of school (which happen to be the fun ones) catatonic in bed. I knew he was sick when he wrapped himself in blankets and turned off all fans on Tuesday afternoon: our themostat was reading around 87 degrees upstairs. I dragged him to school to clean out his desk yesterday, and to give his teacher a (hopefully germ-free) gift. I’ve been giving my books, signed, as teacher gifts, and couldn’t remember whether I’d already done that at Christmas … er, awkward. I was pretty sure I hadn’t, but Albus thought I had, and then I couldn’t remember but it was too late as we were already on our way, so we both felt embarassed to hand over the gift bag. And that was the end of grade six, and the end of his time at elementary school. Talk about anticlimactic. He’s off to a new school this fall.
Fooey has filled a bag with schoolwork to burn at our annual Canada Day bonfire. CJ is proving way too sentimental over everything he made this year (and I do mean everything).
AppleApple will be with the same teacher again this fall, but had to say goodbye to friends who are graduating schools, including her walking partner from the neighbourhood.
And that sums up our goodbyes. Very little drama.
Next up: holidays. The big kids will be babysitting the little kids, and they are taking their new responsibilities very seriously (starting today, in fact, and I haven’t been disturbed yet!). We’ve got two weeks of swim lessons, cottage invitations for a couple of kids, plans to get together with family, overnight camps, one week of day camp for the little kids, and a half-day tennis camp for Fooey (who thinks that tennis might be her “special thing.”) I’ve got major book revisions to tackle, and a course to finish planning, but I’d also like to swim as often as possible. And there’s always soccer.
Nine weeks “off,” here we come.
Here’s where the swim girl and I are spending many humid hours of our weekend. This particular meet is being held in what just might be the world’s largest sauna. Perhaps my skin will thank me for it, and I’ll emerge from the heavy chlorinated air looking years younger, or perhaps I’ll just emerge with a sweat-spotted tank top, but either way, I will emerge. We both will.
This meet was added into our June schedule unexpectedly when the coach told us that AppleApple had met qualifying times for a number of events at the regional meet. “Well, that just happens to be our one free weekend,” I replied, with what I hope was a touch of excitement rather than bitterness. No, I’m just kidding. I’ve gained a certain fondness over this year for the atmosphere of the swim meet. It’s become familiar, and known, and happy, much like the atmosphere of the soccer tournament.
I didn’t get any glowing photos of my girl. That’s because immediately after watching her race I am a bundle of nervous energy exploding and cannot steady my hands to hold the camera. So these are all befores, when she’s going through whatever emotions a kid goes through while waiting for a race.
This is how I captured her, waiting with her teammates for, quite literally, the last race of the day: 4×100 freestyle relay. She is the newest and least experienced member of the tight-knit team and a couple of these girls are the fastest in the region, so when her coach placed her on the last leg of the race, I almost couldn’t bear to watch. But I watched. How could I not? There’s my baby, all those hours of practice and hard work adding up to this moment, throwing herself in and swimming for the wall with intense determination. “How were you feeling?” I asked afterward. “Terrified!” she said, although her tone suggested that the sensation was not entirely unpleasant. In the race, she took two seconds off the time she’d swum earlier in the day, which was already two seconds faster than her personal best. Her team won gold.
She also won individual bronze in the 200 metre breaststroke, and placed strongly in her other two events.
“How do you feel?” “I’ve never felt this way before, so I don’t really know.”
Meanwhile, in the non-swimming-related portions of life, Kevin and I went to a party last night, which reminded me that we haven’t been out socially for ages. Where has my social life gone? It’s gotten lost in the swim meets and soccer tournaments, I’m pretty sure. Also, I haven’t found a replacement for playgroup, a social event that sustained me for years, friends gathered weekly in each other’s homes to drink coffee and hold babies and send our preschool-aged children off to play together (mostly, that happened). This past year was the first without playgroup. And I miss people, specific people, because our paths don’t seem to cross in the same way anymore. I don’t mean to end this post on a melancholy note. I’m coming to accept that there’s no balance possible in life, only the enjoyment of and engagement with what’s right before us, but I keep my eyes peeled for certain omissions in the every day, so as to make changes, if needed or wanted. Any advice for post-playgroup-every-day-socializing?
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