Monday, June 29, 2009

My Family Tree Is Fulla Nuts!

So, where the heck have I been? Well, I just got back from a week+ vacation to see my family in northern California where I grew up so I am going to use that as an excuse, but really I have just been suffering from a seemingly interminable case of writer's block. I am pretty sure that the case is not solved either, so if this post comes out like a random stream of anti-thought, I should not be held responsible. Because of said vacation, I do have quite a few ideas floating around in my head, but none of them seem to want to stick to the metaphorical paper. But one thing I did learn while on my vacation is that all families are crazy.
Really. Isn't yours? See, I am right!
I cannot write in specifics about what it was that drew me to this conclusion without being ostracized for the next five to ten years. Although the collective memory of my clan will eventually morph every family story into something that resembles truth only in some parallel universe entirely populated with fishermen, so I am probably safe. Which brings us back to the crazy part. There is no single thing that makes me think my family is crazy, but rather a culmination of many hours spent reminiscing about old times, and comparing seemingly unrelated childhoods. Yes, it is true, while my brother, sister and I were raised in the same home, we apparently lived completely separate lives. I offer as example...
"Oh! Remember when we used to come here all the time when we were kids?"
"I've never been here."
"Remember when Jimmy fell off this swing and broke his arm?"
"That was Sally and she broke her ankle, and it was a different park."
"What?! None of you ever broke anything."
"Remember when Uncle Dan used to always bake us those yummy snickerdoodles?"
"We have an Uncle Dan?"
It does make these reunions more interesting. It is like reliving a whole bunch of stuff that you must not have remembered quite right and that now you are not sure happened at all, but you look so much like these people that you have to assume you found the right house. And in the end, I reluctantly admit that I am at least one nut that did not fall far from the tree, and MAN do we have a good time!
Quote of the Day: "If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, 'you know, we're alright'."
--Jeff Foxworthy

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Lovin'...

There is something I have been thinking about for a while, but I have not been able to fashion the random goulash of ideas into anything even slightly resembling concrete language. This is nothing new for me, but somedays it is harder than others to reign in my lunatic thoughts. With just 2 1/2 days of school left I am excitedly anticipating having all four kids home for the better part of 3 months.  I know, I know you are thinking, "What!? Moms dread summer vacation!"  I will admit at the beginning of the summer I really know that it could go either way.  It could be 12 weeks of not-so scientific studies on the effects of prolonged periods of TV watching and boredom endurance analysis followed by free-for-all wrestling matches that test both skill and cunning, not to mention Mom's patience!  OR It could be a season's worth of blissful play & sunshine. No schedules.  No homework. No shoes and no worries!  I guess I am lucky in that most of our summers have been much more of the latter than not. 
I don't feel qualified to give advice on keeping kids out of trouble during those long, crazy and often lazy days of summer, but I do know what works for us.  Lots of creativity, imagination and freedom.  Bicycles and badminton. Crayons, paint and paper. Sprinklers and sidewalk chalk. Puppet shows and dress up clothes. Backyard camp outs and neighborhood nature walks.  We always pick a country and/or language to study over the summer. We try to incorporate some foods from those places into our meals too. Language CD's and books on tape are great for both road trips and running to t-ball games and swimming lessons. Last summer we played "tourist" in our own town.  We went to the local visitor's center and walked around the quaint downtown.  We hit all the touristy places, ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe and tried to look at our own little town with fresh eyes.
Summer is the time to put away the calendar and take the phone off the hook. Unplug the TV and dust off the BBQ. Don't dread it, embrace it!  Bust out the books and the picnic blankets. Make bird feeders, catch bugs in jars and grow a garden.  Sit on the porch swing. Plant flowers. Make lemonade. Take walks. Climb trees. Ride bikes. Run in the sprinklers. Get your feet dirty and drink out of the hose!  Take a's summer!
Quote of the Day: "Summer is when laziness finds respectability."
 ~Sam Keen author