Category: Kids

Summer luxuries

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1. Staying up late. Sleeping in.

Yes, I still get up early two mornings a week to exercise, but early morning exercise isn’t so critical during the summer — I’ve got lots of other opportunities. So on all the other days of the week I sleep in, often until 8! The kids sleep in too. And we’re all up much later than during the school year, out at soccer fields, or just playing in the back yard until it’s dark. And we’ve been letting the kids stay up even later to watch Olympic coverage on TV.

2. Swimming. 

Which I’ve already rhapsodized enough about, but hey. I didn’t skip out on my writing time today, but today has been the exception. Around 11am, you can find me at the pool, swimming lengths, most weekdays so far this summer.

3. Playing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this last luxury. On Monday evenings, Kevin plays soccer and AppleApple has a practice, so I’ve been taking all of the kids to practice, along with snacks and water and a bag of soccer balls, and we’ve been playing on the empty field nearby. Often, I’m practicing skills to try to improve my own soccer game, and the kids are kicking balls at me, or we’re all running up the field doing passes, taking shots on net, pretending to let CJ score on us or save our shots, or whatever we’ve decided to do. Whatever develops.

I’ve noticed that while fathers can often be seen playing with their kids — kicking a ball, coaching, running around, winding up to take shots on net — I rarely see other mothers doing this. I might almost say I’ve never seen another mother doing this. I’ve seen the occasional mother coaching her kid’s soccer team. But I’ve never seen another mother playing pickup soccer with her kids — running hard, getting sweaty, shouting, playing.

Is this your experience too? I’ll admit I do feel self-conscious being the only mom (and often the only parent, period) running around. (My purple soccer cleats make me twice as geeky).

I wonder why I don’t see groups of young women gathering at the park to play pickup soccer. I see lots of groups of young men — probably university students — gathering, and, yes, there is often a young woman or two in their midst; but I’ve never seen a group of young women gather spontaneously like that. I see women in the park doing boot camp together. I also meet friends to go to exercise classes together. But let’s face it, that’s not really playing.

Here’s what I’ve been wondering: Is it taboo to play, as a grown woman?

Honestly, I don’t care if it is because I’ll tell you this — it’s fun. It’s so fun.

And then there were … eight?!

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Well, what do you think of these girls?

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We think they’re awfully sweet, and can imagine them fitting right in with our crew. They’re not ours yet, as there is still an adoption process to go through, and after that a trial period, but we’re hoping to have them here within the next week (or so).

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AppleApple was particularly crushed that we couldn’t keep them after their visit yesterday, but they need to be vetted, and we really weren’t entirely prepared. In fact, Kevin is working right now to fix our gates, which have fairly wide openings underneath. The girls have an adventuring streak and they’re really quick tiny.

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DJ is a spaniel cross, and Suzi appears to be part Jack Russell terrier and part chihuahua (those ears!). They’re middle-aged, and have been together for a long time, which is why they’re being adopted together. Old friends.

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Our other weekend activity is WATCHING THE OLYMPICS! Anyone else out there insatiable Olympics fans? We are! Also enjoyable is hearing the kids imagine which Olympic events they’d like to compete in. Fooey and CJ are keen on gymnastics (although Fooey wasn’t sure she’d like doing it in front of so many people; “I’ll just cheer you on, Mama!”). AppleApple, of course, is planning to play for Canada’s women’s soccer team. (Albus appears not to harbour Olympic ambitions.)

I especially enjoyed seeing the Canadian women’s soccer team in action yesterday against South Africa. Somehow, I was able to write at the same time (whether or not it’s my best work is, however, debatable.) This evening, I’m playing a soccer game, and I found myself irresistably drawn to the commentating voice. “The Kickers are going in as the underdogs in this match and unfortunately they’ll be missing their strongest player today, but if the team can keep their focus and hold it together, they might just hang on and keep their position in the standings.” (Which is, um, last, so that shouldn’t prove too trying a task).

Kevin coached Albus’s team to a fifth place finish (of twelve teams) in their tournament this weekend. This was unexpected given that the team had only won twice all season. They were a bunch of average-skilled kids, with a few who hadn’t played before, and they were hampered by team members who failed to show up all season too, and often had to play games with no subs. (Sometimes, in house league, I suspect parents sign their kids up, but the kids themselves aren’t that interested.) The good news is that the core group really learned how to work as a team. We were very proud of their effort and finish at the end.

Summer hodgepodge

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summer haircut

I’ve been quiet here. Blame summer. Our days are feeling lazy and hazy and kind of effortless, even though it’s also busy. Swim lessons have occupied our mornings for these past two weeks. Tomorrow’s the last day, which feels bittersweet. The kids will be happy to be done, but I’ll miss the routine, and the feeling that we’re soaking up summer.

In other news, I almost hesitate to say it, in case it falls through, but we may soon have a real family pet (and not just an ant farm–which the children made yesterday with their very creative babysitter). I won’t say more … yet. But excitement is high, and I include the parents in that too.

On yet another note, one small soccer observation. I’ve figured out that there’s one really simple way to be part of a team: show up. I’ve noticed that as the season has gone on, I’ve gained affection for those teammates who arrive every week, ready to try their hardest, regardless of skill level. That said, I’m hoping to continue to improve my skills, even while I recognize more and more what my weaknesses are (that’s a good thing, right? I mean recognizing weaknesses?). I’m considering looking to play indoor this winter. I hate getting beat up on the field, but I actually love the game itself; so the game is winning out, at least so far. I want to play it, I enjoy playing it, I enjoy talking strategy after the game, and I enjoy visualizing how I can get better at it.

Finally, I participated in a project this week called For the Love of It. I’ll let you know when it’s up, with more behind-the-scenes info then. (I’ve gotten used to being on the other side of the camera/questions, so this felt a little strange.)

And now, I’m off to write — fiction. Which you know I’m doing for the love of it. And that’s a pretty awesome reason to do anything (see all of the above).

On learning something new

learning to ride a bike

This was our project yesterday.

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Problem is, he’s very attached to this bike, the balance bike that was supposed to make the transition to big-boy bike painless and training-wheel-free. (I know it’s worked for many others.) So far, it hasn’t worked for us.

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Just getting CJ to try his new big-boy bike (yes, it’s a hand-me-down from his sisters) took a lot of creative effort on the part of the other kids. Here was one attempt by Albus: look, how fast you’ll be able to go!

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CJ’s response. But we coaxed him on. He’s now working the pedals, but isn’t keen on us letting go. It’s a slow process.

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And he loves this old balance bike … Gotta admit, it looks pretty cool.

Now in season: summer

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All week, every day, I’ve gotten to do something seasonal: swim laps in an outdoor pool. Slathered in sunscreen, I’ve slipped into clear chlorinated water, and front-crawled back and forth along the 50m lanes for an hour. Swimming at noonish, I can see my shadow on the shimmering pool bottom, my arms reaching out overhead. The light on the bottom of the pool is beautiful to watch. It almost feels like I could swim forever.

With luck, I’ll get to swim most days for the next two weeks, while all the kids are taking lessons; I’ll be limited to half hour swims, due to scheduling, but half an hour a day is better than not swimming at all. Like Kevin said, lane swimming outdoors feels kind of like eating strawberries and asparagus in season — you have to get it while you can, and get as much as you can.

AppleApple expressed happiness about her relatively unstructured summer. I know there’s debate about sending kids to school year-round, but here in Canada, that makes no sense to me. Summer is barely here before it’s gone. Imagine kids being in school right now — indoors! — while there are raspberries to pick, and outdoor pools to swim in, and long late evenings to stay outside kicking a soccer ball around. For them, and for us, we need to grab what we can of summer, soak it up, go all out.

It’s like storing solar energy — heat for the long dark winter.

On why I’m wearing a bikini to the pool

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this is not a picture of me in my bikini

Agh! I want to blog! But I have about six minutes remaining in my work day. I can’t quite describe how busy it’s been, nor how lovely, too. We’re a week and a half into summer holidays, and we’ve hit a nice groove this week. I’ve got great daytime babysitting arranged. The kids are getting outside often, and doing fun projects with their sitters like cooking and making paper airplanes and blowing bubbles. Today, Albus went swimming in a friend’s backyard. AppleApple’s been going to daily swim lessons at a beautiful outdoor 50m pool, and I’ve gotten to bike her there all week — and then lane swim during her lesson.

Which leads me to the bikini. Today, I went for my lane swim in a new sporty bikini. It’s small. It exposes my mother-of-four stomach. And I love wearing it. Why? It expresses confidence. It’s a semiotic for where I’m at. I exercise regularly, not because I want to look good, but because it makes me feel good. And I do feel good in this body. Wrinkles, stretch marks — yup. Got ’em. Muscles — yup. Got ’em too. So be it. I am thirty-seven years old.

Occasionally, I find myself regretting that I didn’t discover my latent athletic self earlier. But you know, mostly I’m simply grateful to have discovered that part of myself, period. Regret of this sort is foolish. So I didn’t play soccer as a kid. I’m playing it now and learning new skills. So it took me thirty-five years before I learned how to swim. I learned and I love swimming! That’s the point, not that I’ve missed opportunities along the way.

I’ve decided that this is my opportunity to wear a bikini. Never thought it would happen again. Glad the moment has come.

If there’s something you want to do, or wish you’d done years ago, can you do it now? Maybe. Just maybe. Consider it.