Tuesday, June 11, 2013

summer so far

During the last few months of the schoolyear, I made no secret of the fact that I was nervous about this summer.  It would be our first summer in Oak Park.  It would be my first summer without a car.  I'd also been having a really hard year with the kids, and I was nervous about my own impatience and level of tolerance for all-day antics and/or whining.
Camping trip with family to Bear Branch in Southern Illinois.  Feeding horses.

Camping trip with family to Bear Branch in Southern Illinois.  Exploring the creek.

Camping trip with family to Bear Branch in Southern Illinois.  Creek stomping.

Camping trip with family to Bear Branch in Southern Illinois.  Gorgeous stone creek bed.

One week in, I'm happy to report this summer is going well.  I'm working hard on yelling less, and it's helping so much.  I'm becoming more aware of my triggers and have figured out some surprising ones.  For instance, I love music, and I love the idea of music being on in the house.  Selfishly, I want some of my taste to rub off on the kids, and I also want them to see me loving music, because I want them to love it too.  So I had a goal in my mind to have more music on around the house this summer.  HOWEVER, I have noticed that music + boys can cause a noise overload that eventually makes me snap.  If I'm jamming to the new Vampire Weekend, folding laundry or whatever, and the boys run in to tell me something, they are yelling over each other, and yelling over the loud music, and I'm a lot more likely to yell back at them, which is not what I want to do.  So I'm trying to figure out how I can still incorporate music into our family life without being overloaded by sound.  Still thinking on that one.... The point is, in order to yell less I have to know what triggers me to yell in the first place, and I'm slowly piecing the puzzle together.  I have to be a lot more specific than just, "because my boys drive me crazy."  It's harder than you might think.  ;)  I'm still working on it, but I've noticed an improvement, and guess what.  When my behavior improves, so does the boys'.  Shocking, I know.
Kids and Kites Festival in Chicago.

Kids and Kites Festival in Chicago.

Kids and Kites Festival in Chicago.

Kids and Kites Festival in Chicago.

For this first week of summer we have been taking it pretty easy.  We usually stay inside the apartment in the morning.... I try to work on housework or various projects.  The boys practice piano, do their chores, pick up their room, and then get a little video game time (30 minutes weekdays, 1 hour weekends).  Late morning or after lunch we head outside to one of the local parks and meet friends.  It has been so relaxing and easy so far.  I am experiencing something new to me, which is a social summer. Before we moved, I had friends, but for whatever reason, I didn't connect with them much during the summer.  We had playdates here and there, but it wasn't a daily thing by any means.  I don't know if there was a group getting together that I didn't know about, or if everyone just kind of did their own thing all summer.  But here it is feeling really different.  If someone goes out to the park, they text everyone else and say, Hey, we're out here, you guys should come out!  And if we can, we do.  The park across the street is such a convenient place to meet, and many times we'll run into friends even if we didn't text them.  Experiencing this makes me realize that I was pretty isolated during summers past, even though I didn't feel it at the time.  It's nice to be connected and social during summertime.  Plus there is a lot less pressure on me to plan something every day.  The kids are totally content to cross the street with bikes and a ball and play all afternoon.  All the pressure I put on myself to come up with creative activities or venture into the city frequently.... *poof* magically gone.  And it feels good.
Climbing ropes at the Morton Arboretum.

Speaking of bikes, T just learned to ride.  We really should have done it last summer, but with the move we didn't get to it.  This summer it was top priority and after just a few short practice sessions he got it.  I'm proud of him and excited for the bike-riding possibilities.  We can now explore a little further afield without a car.  I should probably let him practice using his brakes a little more before I start planning expeditions, though.
Two percussionists after the end-of-year band concert.

These first two weeks are sort of the calm before storm.  We are going to get busier.  There are camps coming up, and swimming lessons, and visits with family.  I think it will all be fun, but it's going to feel a little more hectic than these first two weeks.  I'm glad it worked out this way, with these two blank-slate weeks right after the end of school.  It feels like a real break from the school year and we needed that badly.

Playing the piano during the school talent show.
We've also been watching a lot more Dr. Who than we should.  I'm planning a Dr Who birthday party for T next week.  More on that later.

So that is my report!  We are surviving.  We are enjoying.  I am high-fiving myself for not ruining summer so far. 

(photos for your enjoyment are from miscellaneous adventures this spring....)

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