Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Simple Summer

The kids go back to school one week from tomorrow. I can't believe how fast the summer has gone by and how relatively sane I feel this year in comparison to other years. I've been trying to analyze the situation and find the source so that it could be repeated in the future, if possible. The main thing that I can come up with is that we have kept it simple. Instead of scheduling the kids from sun up to sun down every day, we let each child choose one thing that they really wanted to do this summer and we made that happen. Taylor chose an archery class through the community extension program and Audrey chose 'Babysitter Bootcamp.' I certainly couldn't argue with that! Noah was old enough this year to do the golf camp that Taylor usually does so he chose that. Xander just wanted to go swimming at the Y so that was an easy one.

Another thing that has helped this year was limiting 'plugged in' time. The kids are only allowed to watch tv or play computer or video games between 3 and 5 pm. For the rest of the day, they have to do something else, anything else. This was hard to enforce at first but worth it in the end. Instead of waking up and vegging out in front of the tv in pajamas until noon each day, they are enjoying spending time together as brothers and sister and just being kids. They play games together, walk the dog, do crafts, build forts in the playroom, or make 'hotels' for their toy animals, etc. I'm convinced it is better for their brains and aside from Taylor and Audrey's need to torment each other for a small portion of each day it has brought peace to our home.

Another thing that has to be a factor is the kids' ages. Now that they are all getting older, there is certainly a different dynamic at work than there has been in the past. It is really cool to be able to sit and play a board game with all of your children, especially when there are enough of them to play any game and they are old enough to actually provide some competition. They are also much more helpful than they have ever been. One day last week, I was going through the playroom and they all joined in and helped to clean and organize it. It was as if my efforts grew five fold and it went fast and looked great when we were done. All of the kiddos even joined in last week when I was canning peaches. The canning process doesn't always go smoothly. Depending on the quality and cooperation of the fruit, mood I'm in, etc. it can be either heaven or hell but this time it was perfect. Taylor made the syrup and blanched the peaches. Noah and Audrey skinned them and Xander was happy to supervise. All that I had to do was cut and pit the peaches and get the jars in and out of the canner. So easy! Here are some pics of my kitchen crew:

I'm going to miss these turkeys next week, especially when I have to entertain Xander by myself for hours on end.

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