Thursday, March 11, 2010

Family Time

The past week and a half or so has been awesome. I've been working more than usual lately in order to pay some bills, and the more I work, the more focused I become on taking advantage of every moment I have with our family. Regular daily cycles are getting easier for me to handle as I get more experienced as a parent, but they still tend to drain me of energy and compete for my focus. Any change in routine is good for reminding me to enjoy my kids as much as possible, and to be patient and calm.

You know, when I'm not stomping and yelling.

So last week we dressed the kids up in their puddle pants and rain jackets and rain boots, and took them for a 4 km hike in the rainforest. They loved it, and it was fantastic. Sunday we designated family day, and went hiking in yet another park (we got a later start and wound up getting chased out of the park in the semi dusk by the park manager, whose job it is to close and lock the gates at 6 pm!!), cooked up a barbeque, and played Harry Potter Clue after supper. It was fabulous. The yellow, blue, and red rain gear the kids have is SO CUTE, I HAVE to remember my camera and somehow get you some pictures. Especially with the dog, mucking around at the edge of a creek somewhere in the woods. Jeepers, so cute. Our Harry Potter Clue game lasted over an hour, and in the end there were two people cards, two location cards, and NO item cards inside the envelope (a fatal error of disorganization, for those who are not Clue players!), so no one won. We had a lot of fun, though, so that was the point anyways!

We have been able to sleep in all week because it is spring break. Well, all except Brent, who has to work. I took the kids to a nearby park on Monday, to exercise the dog and keep the kids busy, and Ayden and Matthew spent the entire time in the ravine, mucking around near the creek. "MOMMY, WE ARE 'SPLORERS!!!" That is, until some guy on a bike brought them back up, saying "I found these guys playing by themselves by the creek down there, are they yours?" This happens a lot more than it should, I think. You give your kids some long reign and other grownups step in. To remind you that you need to supervise better, I guess? I'm trying to do some free range parenting, because I firmly believe it instills confidence, street smarts, appreciation for nature and self limitations, identity, and creativity to spend some time *just* out of earshot or eyesight of one's parents on a regular basis. Apparently all these other grownups didn't get the memo on my parenting style. [the meddling doesn't actually happen a LOT, but it bugs me a lot when it does, so it seems more frequent than it is].
After the park we walked a few extra blocks to McDonald's for lunch, which made the kids over the moon excited. McDonald's is a special treat.

Today I packed all three up and we went to the pool. It was kind of an impromptu trip to the pool, because we originally went to take Riley to his music class. I was 60% sure it would be cancelled for spring break, but wasn't totally sure, so we went just in case. We missed last week so id didn't want to assume and miss another week for nothing. When we saw that it was cancelled, I decided to sign Matthew up for swimming lessons. When the woman at the desk saw Matthew's age versus the last class level he took, she figured he should be assessed by a lifeguard to see what level would be most appropriate for him to go into. I was very happy to get this advice, because Matthew is an incredibly strong swimmer and it would be great to have him in a class that challenges him a bit. But I didn't have his bathing suit so we had to go home first and get that. While I was home I figured public swim might also be on, so I might as well get suits for all of us just in case. It turned out public swim was on right then, so I, brave woman, took three *very* active boys to the pool ALL BY MYSELF! Without even batting an eye. I was exhausted afterwards, but I didn't even think to myself "This is crazy!" more than once or twice. The older boys are fairly good swimmers and very good kids as far as obedience most of the time, so I felt pretty comfortable and relaxed most of the time. Riley got away from me on two occasions--one time he slipped on the pool deck and smacked his cheek pretty hard, and the other time I just lost sight of him (and, I admit, consciousness--you know when you forget to watch for them for a few seconds? And then you realize you're near something dangerous and you don't have an exact location on them and haven't thought about it for at least 15 seconds? yeah, it was like that) for a few seconds, but when I relocated him he was fine, and within about 8 feet of my right elbow.

We have also decided to sell our Matrix and buy a larger vehicle. We really want a Nissan Pathfinder with a third row of seats, but they're way expensive. So we figure we'll wait a few years until Brent makes more, and we are in a better position to own a Pathfinder, and in the meantime we'll get a van. I know, we had a van and got rid of it, but we need more space. The dog and Ayden being unable to buckle his own seatbelt because his booster is too close to the carseat beside it are the two main reasons we no longer fit in the Matrix. So sad. I LOVE that Matrix! Anyways, we found a van in Delta that suits us well, and are going to purchase it tomorrow! I'm SO happy at the prospect of more space that I'm almost totally able to block out how dorky it is to own a minivan again. Not that I claim any participation in any level of coolness or anything. There's just something so 'my parents' generation' about a minivan, you know? My parents are awesome, but I don't want to be them exactly.

Anyways, the van will be awesome. And the family time has been fantastic. Though yesterday in particular I was feeling filled to the top with Matthew's persistence, chatter, and limits testing. He has always been a tester of the outer limits of acceptable behaviour, but lately he has been particularly testy. Over. And. Over. And. Over. In. A. Day.
It takes a village to raise a child, and school is my village. Breaks from school are absolutely necessary and good, but they remind me to appreciate school! Especially with that persistent middle child of mine!


Deb said...

So, was Matthew in a higher level of swimming than they expected? I remember my little brother was never allowed in the deep end even though he was fully capable, without proving he could swim from one side to the other for lifeguards first. He was really young when he could swim that well, and no one believed it.
At least your kids are healthy - I've been excited about doing all that sort of stuff and instead, Aria's been sick since last Friday. BAH!

lori lls said...

Boys in the woods with a dog. Classic. Sounds so great to have em out there "mucking" round, as you say. I bet their raincoats are bright against the dark green woods.

Another friend turned me on to that free range parenting website recently, and I love it! It soooo goes with my instincts and tendencies. Along that vein, Melissa, have you ever listened to any lectures by John Taylor Gatto? I believe you would fall in love with that guy and his thinking about parenting, education, etc.

New things are fun. Congrats on finding a car. Maybe during those days you feel like a dork in your minivan, you could have a cd of kickass music ready to pop in, like heavy metal or raunchy rap, just something to shock the socks off of the people next to you at the stoplight. That, or you could wear a Harley Davidson jacket every time you drive. That'd be cool.