Summer Routine

Yesterday was the last day of school for Benno. My sweet baby boy finished Grade Two and will start his final year of primary come September. I know people always say that time flies when you have kids, and it really does.

The end of the school year means no morning drive to school, no making lunches, no afternoon pickup, hooray! Yet I know from experience that if we do away with routine altogether, we will be in serious trouble. And by we, I mean me.


So, here is a list of things routines that will not be abandoned this summer.

1. All kids must do the morning routine before eating breakfast. Our morning routine consists of getting up, going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, and getting dressed. I know that technically you are supposed to brush your teeth after breakfast, but in our household, if we don’t do it right away, it generally has a pretty low chance of being done at all.

2. Eat breakfast by 10:00. This will give the kids enough time to horse around in the morning, but have them eating before it becomes ridiculously late.

3. Everyone clears their dishes.

4. Downstairs living areas must be totally clean before heading up to bed.

5. If you are too loud, you will get kicked outside, regardless of the weather.

Okay, now here are the rules for me:

1. Get up and into the shower by 7:00 at the latest. If I don’t shower before the kids are up, our ability to do anything decreases by about 90%.

2. Pray every morning. I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but on days when I take the time to pray, things generally go much more smoothly.

3. Keep my temper. For help with this, see #2.

4. Work on kitchen cleanliness. This is a very big challenge for me as my “office” is also in the kitchen.  If I can get a good system for keeping the dishes from multiplying like rabbits on the countertop and keeping papers organized I will be a very, very happy camper.

5. Carve out some sort of quiet time for myself every day.  Even if it is 5 minutes to put on clear nail polish or look at a magazine without interruption.

6. The long shot: teach my kids to wait their turn while I am on the phone or speaking to another adult.  Or maybe just a full course in delayed gratification.  My kids are generally pretty well-behaved, but they do tend to think that the world will come to an end if I don’t pay attention to them RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!  Very provoking when I am trying to have an important conversation on the phone.  Perhaps this will require more attention to point#2…

Do you  have any non-negotiable summer routines?


Cord Control

You know that spaghetti of a mess that you get when you just have too many computer cords? Well, I did something about ours. I don’t have a “before” photo, but suffice to say it’s a good thing we have a large monitor that can hide a lot of cords. Well, sort of hide. It is probably more accurate to say “partially obstruct”.

I have seen various options for hiding all your cords (like this one from Ikea), but the basic idea is the same wherever you look: a box with holes in which all the horrible spaghetti is hidden from view. Not wanting to spend $15, I repurposed an old shoe box. I just cut two holes in the side, reinforced the holes with duct tape, and started threading computer cords.

Here is the newly organized corner. Can you spot the box?


A close up.


The inside. I am SO glad this is not visible anymore.


Close up of the hole I cut in the side.


In other news, I broke out the glue gun and fixed Benno’s flipper and Cate’s tiara. I also reattached the skull of the sabre tooth tiger which had broken off after an unfortunate fall. He now grins down at me from the top of the receipt box.


Documentary: Watergate

All the President's Men (film)

I can’t remember when I first read “All the President’s Men”, but I do know that when I read it, I was fascinated.  After I sorted out who all the players were (thanks to the pictorial “Who’s Who” in the centre of the paperback), I read through the Watergate account over and over again, astounded by the conceit and deceit of Richard Nixon and impressed with the forbearance of Woodward and Bernstein.  Indeed, the Emperor had no clothes.

Somehow, this past week I got to watching/listening to Watergate documentaries.  I found a couple that are really interesting.  And so, for your viewing pleasure, I submit the following.

Here is a five-part BBC documentary on the Watergate crisis, released in 1995.

This is really cool: an interview with Robert Redford, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein.  Lots of amazing stories, including a change of heart on the part of Bob Woodward’s perception of Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon.  I think the sign of a good journalist is the ability to be persuaded by the facts, rather than sticking to partisan opinions.

By the way, did you know that Carl Bernstein was at one point married to Nora Ephron?

Most beautiful thing: Swimming

swimming poolOn Sunday evening we went for a late swim at the pool. We left at 7:15 and got home at 9:30, everyone tired and smelling like chlorine. But we had a great time splashing around and being together. Benno got to try out his new goggles. Cate went down the little slide and tried to do as much splashing as possible while getting her face wet as little as possible. John clung to me for most of the time, which was lovely. Oh, and Ben was evaluated for swimming lessons and showed Darren and I that he can definitely float on his front and his back and kick on his front and back. This is a far cry from the little boy who would do everything his swimming teacher asked him to do EXCEPT put his face in the water.

I have spent a LOT of time in pools. My parents put us in swimming lessons every summer. By the time I was twelve I had completed every level of in the Red Cross/ YMCA program and had moved on to Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross. Then I did my NLS and became a lifeguard and swimming instructor. Once again, most of my summers were spent floating in a pool and teaching kids how to swim. I loved it. At one point I was teaching all day, then going over to a friends’ house and swimming in the evenings. I would generally be the last one out of the pool. I love the water.

Swimming provides so many great metaphors for life: treading water, drowning, coming up for air, surfacing, diving in. Swimming is about adapting your body to an environment that could kill you. It is also about feeling lighter than air, moving in a way that gravity makes impossible on land. Swimming allows you to bend the rules, to be graceful when you are awkward, to be light when you are heavy. Swimming provides a resistance that doesn’t generally exist. It makes you work harder for movement that is normally easy and free.

All these metaphors, both positive and negative, seem to be related to times of transition.  My life has been full of transitions lately, thus the lack of blogging. It has been a busy time, and it is easy to get caught up in the difficulties that transitions can bring. Transitions can certainly be challenging, but they also provide great opportunities. And sometimes those opportunities lead you to places that you never expected to go and people you never thought you would meet. And it all happened because you were brave enough to welcome change into your life.

Preparing for summer

Cultus Lake DocksDid you ever have a brilliant idea, only to turn around and see that someone else had that same brilliant idea and had already acted on it? That is my experience with this Simple Mom post. For those of you with not enough time to read the whole post, it basically advocates pre-packing for a variety of activities: beach, picnic, pool, etc.

I actually did something of this sort this past winter. We have an old diaper bag that was a disappointing purchase (started to fall apart within six months). I tend to hold on to things, so the irritating, broken diaper bag became a winter emergency bag. It sat in the truck of the car filled with a couple of diapers, John’s stroller snuggle thing, and a set of hat and mitts for each member of the family. It ended up saving our bacon a couple of times, and I’m glad I put it together.

Earlier this month I was thinking that I need to do something similar for the summertime. I am planning on getting some sort of portable bin and filling it with summertime outside things, such as sunscreen, towels, hats, and blankets. The kids will be out in the backyard a lot this summer and it would be good to have everything at hand, rather than running through the house like a madwoman every time we want to go to the outside.

[Incidentally, this happened to me earlier thus week. It was Fun Day at Benno’s school and I had to run upstairs multiple times just because all the summer supplies were in odd places. I was also reminded that just because you remembered sunscreen doesn’t mean that it will automatically keep you from being burnt. You have to apply it to your body. Ooops. ]

So, the plan for the next little while (I have learned that setting fast deadlines at this stage in my life is not always a great idea) is to put together a backyard box, a pool bag, and a picnic bag. That way when the kids are whiny and fussy this summer I can get us out the door quickly and into some cooling body of water without going off the deep end myself.

Most Beautiful Thing: Anniversary #9

Last week Darren and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary.  On Saturday while we were walking around Fort Langley with our family  Darren was horsing around on the train tracks, which always makes me nervous.  He also does this when we are crossing roads.  He will walk reeeeaaaaallllyyyy slowly, just to tick me off because he thinks I am too worried about non-existent cars crashing into us. I am worried about cars crashing into us, but I don’t think it’s silly.  Nevertheless, this has become a great teasing point for him.

After horsing around by himself, Darren grabbed my hand and we started walking together, hand in hand down the tracks.  Pretty soon we started to go faster and faster, trying to outrun each other.  (There may also be a slight competitive streak in our relationship.)  I was moving faster than I had expected.  As we went faster we let go of each others’ hands and…

…both of us immediately started to wobble.  Neither of us could go as fast separately as we could together.  If that isn’t a metaphor for marriage, I don’t know what is.

I think one of the things I like best about that metaphor is that as long as we are supporting each other, as long as we are linked together, we are fine.  Even if we are competing against one another, playing a comradely game of one-upmanship, we are fine as long as we stay together.  You could even say that the competition was an essential element that allowed me to surpass my expectations.  But as soon as we lose that link, as soon as we place our desire to “get ahead” above who we are together, everything fell apart.

Here’s to at least another nine years of competition and companionship, of encouraging and supporting each other through whatever Life sends our way.