Summer Wrap Up

August 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm (Family, GOJ, MJ, Parenthood, PJ, WJ) ()

Every time someone asks my kids what they’ve been up to this summer, and this is a favorite question of adults to kids and other adults alike, my kids’ response is “Nothin'” and a shrugging of their shoulders.

I started the summer practicing, and really have always used, an “Embrace the Bored” parenting style. I don’t over schedule my kids (generally). And I don’t feel the need to prepare specific activities for home either. We have plenty of toys, plenty of yard, plenty of books, plenty of craft supplies. Go.

I have a box for our unfolded socks that is labeled “Are you bored? Fold socks.” Translation- don’t talk to me about nothing to do or I’ll find something for you to do. My kids know that mentioning boredom will get them either an instruction to do a chore, a recitation of my motto “Only boring people are bored”, or a lecture on how being bored is a privilege of the rich. Or all three.

Still, I know what irks me about them being ho-hum about their summer is that I wish we’d done more. There were days we lazed around and bickered all day, and I knew we’d be better off getting out, but just didn’t quite have it in me. In practice, “Embrace the Bored” seemed to lead to kids stretched out on couches, clearly bored, but smart enough not to say so. What do bored school-aged children tend to do, I found? Not find a great book to read, but pester various siblings until they find the sibling that yields the biggest reaction. The littlest one, interestingly, is happiest to occupy herself. You can usually find her at the kitchen table, drawing.

I can’t say I’m ready to give up “Embrace the Bored”. I’m not sure why there was not much taking up of interesting projects or play this summer. Perhaps that’s just my point of view. Maybe there was internal processing going on that will bear fruit later, during those hours sprawled on the couch, repeatedly and unfruitfully asking for more screen time (my rule was an hour after your morning chore was done, no more until Dad gets home and we may decide to watch something as a family, may not).

I do wish I’d arranged a few more get-togethers with some of the boys’ school friends. They did play nearly daily with their neighborhood friends. That may have gone a long way to feeling “fun”, more than anything you can pay to go see. But arranging such things is not really my forte, and I was also looking for a job all summer. So I was trying not to commit to anything too far out, such as a camp they could have done with friends. We mostly did family day trips. Even then, some of us like to leave the house more than others. The same kids that complain we didn’t do much this summer have to be dragged out of the house more often than not.

At any rate, all these Nothin’ replies and my usual self-criticism had me feeling some major Mama-guilt about their summer. So I made a list*. Turns out, it wasn’t Nothin’. I had a lot of fun at some of these activities, and I believe the rest of the family did too. Maybe it’s just that the older kids get, the less they know how to do Enthusiastic well. Teenagers are not known for their enthusiasm. Maybe we should have done much less and we’d have gotten over the Bored hump. Maybe many things. My conclusion after some reflection is that we tried to do some fun things, and you win some you lose some. They can choose to believe they had an awesome summer, and they can choose to believe it sucked. Like all things, I can’t control what anybody else thinks.

I will show them this list, though, so in case their teacher asked, they might have something to say. ūüôā

*Here, for the record, so you don’t believe what you hear from my kids, is

What We Did This Summer (June – August 2014)

Charter boat fishing off Westport for salmon (SUCCESS!)
Set up, played in, and maintained our 18 ft above-ground pool
Hosted my Aunt Elly and cousin Chris (in his twenties and therefore way cool for all of my kids) visiting from Alaska
Celebrated my Grandpa John’s 90th birthday camping in Corvallis, OR
Returned two weeks later to celebrate his life in memorium
Visited the Flying Heritage Museum three times, including their annual air show and the last flight of the White Knight)
Bought and lit fireworks for the first time
Visited my parents’ home in Port Angeles
Hiked to Marymere Falls
Had Date Night at Diamond Knot Brewery
Attended gymnastics classes
Backpacked up the Elwha River
Camped with family friends at Flowing Lake- canoed, fished, tubed, and attempted waterskiing
Played at Wild Waves
Celebrated Willa’s 4th birthday at Birch Bay Waterpark
Petted animals, ate junk food, rode ponies, and watched the Logger Show at the Evergreen State Fair
Boated with cousins on Lake Sammamish
Celebrated Father’s Day with a ferry ride and drive to Point No Point Lighthouse- fished
Toured Whidbey Island, visiting the Coupeville Arts Festival and toured Fort Casey bunkers and lighthouse
Hosted and attended several bbqs with friends
Hosted a family party for Willa’s 4th birthday
Attended a Glow Birthday Party at Jump Planet
Played at Auntie Laura’s house on Lake Jane twice- kayaked, swam the lake and in her neighborhood pool
Visited the library at least once a week
Swam at Rattlesnake Lake
Loaded and emptied the dishwasher ~130 times
Shopped for, fixed, and consumed ~360 meals and snacks
Dirtied, washed, sorted, and folded ~180 loads of laundry
Read at least one full book geared for adults
Read many many books geared for children
Climbed to the top of Guemes Island with friends
Celebrated Backwards Day
Swam at Lake Washington with cousins at least twice
Caught our first crab
Camped at Blue Mountain with Dad’s co-worker and son
Went to the Fremont Solstice Festival
Played at Edmonds Beach a couple times
Watched the Bothell Fourth of July Parade
Flew to San Diego for a job interview
Swam at McCollum Pool
Spent a couple days watching our road get repaved
Replaced electrical cables in Mark’s truck and got it running again (both boys helped)
Had friends over and played in the pool and Xbox (many times)
Attended eight doctors visits (caught up on all the check-ups and multiple specialist)
Attended three dentist visits (Holy Cavities!)

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8:43 am

August 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm (Family, Parenthood, WJ) ()

Republished in honor of World Breastfeeding Week

A Breastfeeding Story
(with plenty of other trivialities mixed in)

The three older children have just left.¬† I am rain-drenched from going outside in a T-shirt and yesterday’s flats to help load them and their three carseats and three backpacks and buckle them in.¬† No, scratch that.¬† I watched my friend buckle them in her car while I distracted her by asking questions about her weekend.

My bi-weekly gift of three hours alone with four months-old Willa has begun.  First, pick her up and ask her what we should do first. 

Coffee, she says!¬† I pour a cup of the pot Mark brewed at 5am and set the microwave for 44 seconds.¬† I am no coffee snob.¬† What to do while we wait… (because I am so neurotic about efficiency I couldn’t possibly just stand there and talk to Willa- which is how I end up completely scatter-brained and inefficient)… laundry!¬†

Move clothes into the dryer, taking care not to drop them in the cat’s water dish like I always do.¬† Put muddy clothes from Saturday’s rainy park outings into soak.¬† Notice Willa in her bouncy seat is chowing down on her hand.

Yo ho, are you ready for a nap already?¬† Clearly you are hungry, but are you tired also?¬† Not so much looking like it, but let’s try for it anyway.¬† Mama’s got things to do.¬† Three hours, three hours!

Go upstairs.¬†¬†¬†Hmm, the bed is stripped.¬† Because, like I always do, I left Willa naked there this morning, thinking I’m sure she won’t pee this time.¬† And like she always does (and every other baby, and I know this and choose to ignore), she peed.¬† Find some baby blankets, and we lay down.¬† Oh, and find my cell phone.

It’s a source of pleasure and guilt.¬† I often (okay, usually) put Willa down with my cell as amusement.¬† Check email, check Facebook, check blog reader.¬† A triplet of websites each time.¬† It makes nursing even more enjoyable.¬† What’s not to love about lying in my comfy bed, with a warm cuddly baby, reading amusing anecdotes?¬† And if I can hear Mark¬†outside the bedroom taking care of a screaming¬†three-year old¬†and It just took a little longer than usual to get Willa down, honey, well, so¬†be it.¬† (We’ll see if he gets around to reading this post.)¬† I do worry I’m making Willa believe she’s not worthy of my attention, though.¬† Like I should stare at her beautiful baby face and sing her to sleep every time, not just sometimes.¬† My own little Mommy-guilt dilemma that I bash myself with multiple times a day.¬† I know I’m a nutball, I know.

We lay* down.  I twist her to her side.  She grins at me.

I’ve always been a big side-lying nurser.¬† I like it for being able to leave without disturbing the baby after she falls asleep.¬† I know moms that never master it, which I cannot fathom.¬† It’s so useful.¬† Try it, really, you’ll like it.¬† (Disclaimer:¬†¬†You do not?¬† Okay, do what you like!¬† I’m not saying not side-lying nursing makes you a bad mother.¬† Or not nursing at all!¬† Or not having children at all!¬† Though if you don’t, you probably stopped at the words A Breastfeeding Story.¬† Okay then.)¬† And it’s easier on your wrists/arms.

She whimpers in her sweet Willa way as I adjust pillows and shirts and blankets.¬† Letting me know she truly is hungry.¬† Good, we’ve timed it right.¬† She’s not full-on crying, so I also know she’s not starving.

She latches on easily, begins gulping.¬† Greta asked me the other day why Willa sounds like a pig when she nurses.¬† I suppose she does, a little.¬† At least she sounds like what I imagine pigs to sound like, because I can’t say I’ve spent much time among real live ones.

I launch Google Reader.¬† The light from the phone draws Willa’s attention.¬† I move¬†a pillow between it and her face.

Her left arm flails around until it finds my right thumb.  The (second) connection Willa-required for nursing and sleep.  Her grasp seems to me a loving hug.  I need you, Mama.  Not just for food but for tender touch.  I am happy to lose my texting thumb to her.

Her eyes close quickly.  I have always loved the early morning nap that babies seem to take just after breakfast.  Sleep seems to come easily at 9am, and not always so easily at 2pm for that afternoon nap.  Time passes.  A belly fills, a social media fix sated.  A content smile on two faces.  Or perhaps mine is more an amused smile, and hers a content smile, or as much of one as a nursing baby can manage with a nipple in her mouth.

Time to get up and work around the house spend too much time writing a blog entry.  I let her hand go, and it does not flail.  A sure sign she is asleep.  I release my breast from the gentle sucking she has continued.  Ease her to her back.  Her hand immediately and desperately searches her face.  Thumb finds mouth, mouth sucks vigorously.  Fingers fan above.  The sucking quickly slows.  She is fully asleep.

I tiptoe downstairs, remembering my cold coffee still in the microwave, in love with my baby Willa Apple Merigold.

20140806-093055-34255163.jpgthe only side-lying nursing photo I have, six years pre-Willa

*lay/lie? Enlighten me if you know!

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