Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Summer Plan

Summer is upon us.  Can you believe it?!  I have always loved summer time.  Maybe it is because I LOVE to camp.  Maybe it is the fact that my birthday is in the summer.  Or maybe it is just the change of season and the change of pace that summer brings.  Whatever the reason, I love summer. 

In years past, I have looked forward to summer with anticipation of several big events, like a camping trip or a 4th of July celebration.  I  like to call myself an "event-er," someone who looks forward to events, and sometimes forgets to enjoy the times in between the events.  So, I got to thinking and had an idea of how to do this summer a little differently. 

First, I wanted to have fun with my kids, on purpose, not just on accident.  I started writing down several things I wanted to do with them this summer, like several crafts, or visiting new parks, or taking a day trip somewhere.  Next, I realized that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on our summer fun.  (My hubby graduated only a year ago and started a new job last October, so we are still living on a tight budget.)  I also realized that without a clear plan, I was more likely to spend money on a whim.  So, I started to brainstorm activities in my area that I could do for little or no money.  Lastly, I needed some structure.  I hate waking up in the morning and not having a plan for my day.  I wanted to know that on "this" day each week, we do "this".  Out of the blue, I fell upon several other blogs and articles that helped me to solidify my plans for this summer.  You can check them out here and here and here

So, HERE is my plan. 
First, I have a focus to each day of the week.  Now when I wake up, and even when I go to bed the night before, I know what to expect for the day.  I can plan ahead because I am not running on spontaneity.  Here is my weekly breakdown:
Monday is My Craft Monday (We will do a craft together.  Something simple, like make something with popsicle sticks, paint, whatever.  My first Monday will be my boys decorating a card stock frame to hang their artwork in on the fridge.  Hopefully, that will help them limit their fridge decor to one piece each.  Not likely.)
Tuesday is Tastee Tuesday (We will create something together in the kitchen.  I want to make suckers with my boys, teach them to make popsicles, and salt water taffy.  I loved doing those things as a kid.  I'll let them each make and decorate their own cake. Whatever they would enjoy doing that I usually don't take them time to let them do.)
Wednesday is Wet Wednesday (We will play in the water in some way on this day, whether it be in the sprinklers, slip-n-slide, kiddie pool, or visiting a local pool or splash park.)
Thursday is Thinking Thursday (I want my boys to have a day where they have to use their brains.  So on this day, we will go to story time at our local library, read books together, practice sight words and writing names, etc.) 
Friday is Field Trip Friday (I really wanted to get away occasionally, and sometimes that will be as simple as going to find and explore a new local park, visit a petting zoo, take a hike, visit cousins.) 
Saturday will be our Family Movie Night.  (I loved this idea I read.  I think it will help to create a family culture and be something fun my kids can look forward to each week.  We'll take turns picking the movie and find fun places to watch them, like in the garage or outside on a projector.) 

The last part of my summer plan came from an idea my mother in law did several years ago.  We had a family reunion and she set up a store where the kids could earn tickets and then "buy" things from the store.  They had so much fun with it!  Here is a picture of my "store" and a list of ways my boys can earn tickets. 

One ticket each for:
*reading a book/listening to a story
*making their bed
*unloading the silverware (my 3-year-old)
*setting the table
*picking up their room/toys
*helping to fold clothes
*putting their clothes away
*practicing writing their name
*doing a worksheet
*reading a sight word list (my 6-year-old)
*riding bikes for 20 minutes
I'm still adding to the list, but this is the start. 

It is very simple.  I just put in small candies (for 1 ticket each) and several dollar items, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, gum, card games, etc.  I'll add to it as the summer goes on.  I cleared out two shelves in my kitchen for my store for the summer. 

I placed a white board/cork board under the cabinet where the store sits.  Then each day, I'll post on it what day it is so the boys can know what to expect.  The jars are to hold their tickets. 

I feel so much more excited going into summer this year than usual.  And I feel like I have a real plan and can get my kiddos excited about it too. 

What are you doing this summer to enjoy the time before it is gone?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Growing Into Motherhood

Motherhood is an interesting thing. It seems to be something where you slowly learn over time and change your ways and your goals. Where you begin to relinquish some of your control and discover increased peace and contentment in the process. I reflected on this realization the other day when I took my middle son to the greenhouse to get some soil pep. As we were leaving, he expressed that he wanted to walk over the bridge. This greenhouse has a bridge over a pond on one side. Even just a year ago, I would have said "no", that we needed to hurry home. Instead, I loaded our purchases into the car and then walked back over with him to stand on the bridge. He was so thrilled to be standing on the bridge, looking at the fish and the water. It only took a minute or two, but it made his day. Once we got off the bridge, he said to me, "mom, I wanted to go on the bridge this many times,"holding up three fingers. I told him to run over it two more times and then we'd go, which he happily did with a very satsified grin in his face. He had no complaints as we got in the car and headed home. Had I said no to going on the bridge, he might have whined and cried for 20 minutes, or put up a fight to get into the car. And I used to do just that with my oldest. I tried to own all of the control. I was always in a hurry. And I paid the price with many, many, many a tantrum. Now, as I have learned through these experiences and mistakes, it seems I know better which battles to pick. I am allowing my children to be individuals, and I am choosing to let two minute adventures supersede the "hurry" I always seem to be in.
This morning, I needed to get out of my house. I needed to enjoy the beautiful spring weather that has finally decided to show it's face. I packed up my three kids and we headed out for a bike ride, with two in the bike trailer and one on his own bike. We live near the country, with open canals and gravel lining most roads we were traveling. But again, I noticed myself having more patience than I might have in the past, letting my son ride at his own pace and stop when he got into the gravel. I was able to calmly comfort him when we had to ride near the canal. I know there were times in years past when I was cross and frustrated at him for riding too slow, or for getting off his bike to walk it across a road. Now, I realize how counter productive that was. My griping at him did not help him to ride faster or more confidently. On the contrary. Now I find myself smiling and enjoying then experience, and praising him for his success.
I guess I've realized that, at least for me, some lessons just come with time and from mistakes. Maybe that's why you hear seasoned mothers often say they with they could do it again knowing what they know now. I'm starting to understand their longing. But, I'm also beginning to accept myself as a mother and be patient with the learning process. I'm far from being a perfect mother. I still loose my patience and make many, many mistakes. But now, I'm beginning to realize that those mistakes serve as learning experiences to help me become the mother I want to be.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Some Thoughts on Motherhood

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. My oldest made a darling gift for me at school. He was asked questions about him mom and he had to fill in the blanks. I happened to be in his class when several of the groups were working on their gifts. I got a chuckle out of some of their answers. One of the questions was, "My mom loves . . ." and the kids had to answer. My son answered "me" meaning I love him. When asked that same question, one of the girls in his class responded with "texting". "My mom loves texting". Another question was, "My mom always says . . .". My sons answer was "I love you.". This little girl's answer- "toothless". Kids are so funny, and honest.
My hubby also cooked for me. He had been contemplating several gifts and I finally just said that more than anything I really just wanted someone else to plan, prepare, and clean up dinner. He did a nice job, although he had to ask me to help along the way. I do often take for granted the skills needed to prepare a meal. My husband assured me that it required him to multitask, which he does not do. But I so appreciated it!
I read some wonderful thoughts on motherhood while I was relaxing yesterday, and I just wanted to share a few of them.
First, from Elder Quentin L. Cook, "No woman should ever feel the need to apologize or feel that her contribution is less significant because she is devoting her primary efforts to raising and nurturing children.". I liked that one, because sometimes, I do feel like I am less significant for staying home. I always love a good reminder that what I am doing matters. Next, from Sheri Dew, "[Satan]does everything he can to dishonor and devalue both womanhood and motherhood. He well knows that those who rock the cradle are perhaps in the best possible position to rock his diabolical earthly empire. [He] is hoping to confuse women with wordily enticements or secular philosophies that appear more satisfying or even more enlightening".
Sheri Dew also shared this thought, "In the pre mortal world, when our Father described our role, I wonder if we didn't stand in wide-eyed wonder that He would bless us with a sacred trust so central to His plan and that He would endow us with gifts so vital to the loving and leading of His children. I wonder if we shouted for joy [over this]. The world won't tell you that, but the Spirit will.". I loved the picture that came to my mind as I imagined that scene.
Not only do I value being a mother, but I have been blessed with wonderful women who have mothered me throughhout my life. My own mom and my mother in law as well as moms of friends and wonderful leaders and teachers. Each has influenced my life in some way. Mothers really do matter. I'm so glad for a day to reflect on that.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I have a chair in my son's room.  It is a rocker I purchased from my sister shortly before my youngest son was born.  I wanted to have a comfortable place to feed, rock and otherwise love my new, precious baby. 

I sat in that chair tonight, admiring my now one-year-old son peacefully sleeping in his crib.  I couldn't help but think back on where we've been in the last year.  One year ago, my wonderful mother-in-law was at our home, graciously giving a week of her time to help us as we tried to juggle three children and my husband's schedule as he finished up his last weeks of school in preparation for graduation.  She made meals, shuttled my oldest to preschool and back, provided conversation and otherwise made our life more comfortable during this time.  My husband graduated just a week later when our baby was just 19 days old. 

As I gazed on my little bug tonight, I was filled with so many emotions of joy over the changes and blessings of the last year.  A year ago, I could never have imagined where life would take us.  There were times I wished the heavens would part just a little so I could see the Lord's plan for our life.  Instead, I was required to trust in His plan and allow it to unfold.  For anyone who knows me, patience is not easy for me.  And now, as I face new challenges and unknowns, I once again wish for all the answers now, but again, I must wait on the Lord's timing. 

The thought occurred to me that just as the Lord teaches us these lessons on patience, we will in turn need to teach our children.  Teach them that all the answers don't always come NOW, and that they aren't always the answers we want.  Teach them that the Lord's way is a better way, even if we can't see it at the time.  And of course, teaching these truths to our children will solidify them in our own mind.
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