Monday, July 02, 2012

Summer adventures

Oh my goodness, either the summer is flying by or it's moving at the speed of a glacier. Either way, I've been falling down on the job with blogging, huh? So, here's a quick summary of the past few weeks:

In my quest not to be stuck with kids in the house alone all day, every day, I have programmed the summer to within an inch of its life. So, since you last heard, when we went strawberry picking, we've had many more exciting(ish) adventures. It's gotten to the point that J asked me the other day, when we were leaving somewhere, "aren't we going to have a picnic, Mommy? Why aren't we having a picnic? We always have a picnic!" In truth, what we have are more or less hearty snacks that we often eat on the ground or on a bench or somewhere else out and about when we're caught out at mealtime. Apparently, those have all been picnics, in J's estimation. Which makes me seem like a really festive Mommy, no? Hooray! So, where have we been when we've had all these picnics?

The Pool: I am in love with the pool this summer, as are the boys. At first, they were content to splash around happily in the under-5 pool that's only a foot and half deep at its deepest, but, with just one swim lesson under their belts, they then wanted only to paddle around the lazy river, a small circular pool with strong currents pushing everyone in one direction around and around and around. J paddles along on one noodle and Toddler E uses two and both are completely and utterly independent. I walk around and around with them in case they get tired or get swamped by an unexpected wave caused by an over-enthusiastic older child's not so lazy entry into the lazy river, but, for the most part, I am just walking around and around in water over my waist, so it's a fabulous workout for us all. My children have never been more tired or slept more soundly than after "lazing" in the river for two hours--huzzah!

Swim Lessons: We are also two weeks into our summer swim lessons. J has proven himself adept a paddling along across the pool on his own with whatever small flotation device they give him, happily chasing after various toys and dunking his face in the water when asked. He is MUCH more comfortable with his legs, as is to be expected, and he seems to have inherited his father's unfortunate tendency to less than buoyant, but he loves it, so everybody is happy. Toddler E is in the 0-36 months class, but he is the largest child by far. The husband says watching him in the class made him think "Baby E, SMASH!" AND, he's far advanced beyond the other kids in terms of skills as well. For example, the instructor told us to put our children on the ledge just at water level and then recite the "Humpty Dumpty" nursery rhyme. On the words "had a great fall" we were supposed to gently pull our babies completely into the water with us, to get them used to the feeling of the water. Toddler E and I did as instructed, and then I put him back up to try again, at which point E, who had enjoyed his "falling" SOOO much, stood up and jumped back into the water. When I put him back up a third time, he took the security toy they had given the children and threw it out 6 feet into the pool and then jumped out as far as he could after it. So, um, yes, it appears we're comfortable with the water. Next task, we were to wrap ourselves and the baby with a noodle and then slowly pull them with us across the pool. Toddler E wrapped himself in a couple of noodles, pushed me away emphatically, and then swam the breadth of the pool alone. I'm thinking of moving him up to J's class. But I'm so proud of my swimming boys!

Fairs/Festivals: Train Day was a fabulous event at one of the local metroparks. There were model trains of all sizes, a trackless train to ride, hand cranked trains for little kiddies and crafts, including decorating a train whistle and a pin and a train crown and t-shirt stamping, not to mention a "hobo" hike, photo ops, and food. And almost all of it was free! So much fun, even though the day was scorchingly hot. The boys are train addicts--are they all at this age?--and we had a great time. I think we'll be back next year with bells on. And so far every neighborhood around us has had a little fair, such as the Shaker Heights Arts and Music Festival where we had yummy Indian food and got some of the best balloon animals we've ever seen.

Water Fun: Our visit to Fairport Harbor was our excursion to THE lake, Lake Erie. Lake fun is very different from beach fun, I discovered, but the kids enjoyed themselves nonetheless. Lake sand, at least this lake sand, was much coarser than I had thought it would be, and then the bottom of the lake was covered in rocks, smoothish rocks, but rocks nevertheless, so we didn't do a lot of wading. Instead, the boys made big sand castles and sand forts and sand whatchamacallits, and the water was so calm Toddler E learned to float on his stomach in his life jacket with just his fingertips touching the bottom. Next time, we'll bring beach chairs (assuming I can find them in storage!), an umbrellas (the sun was unforgiving), more beach toys, and baby powder (that coarse sand was surprisingly sticky), but we had fun even without all that. We also discovered a free splash park when we went on an errand to find a Father's Day gift that we will certainly visit again when we are headed back out to the Western suburbs.

Libraries: We're enrolled in several summer reading programs and we've already started earning prizes. J is in the hunt for a small stuffed star (he thinks it's a beanbag, so I hope he's not disappointed) and I got a moon-shaped stress ball (can you tell the theme, Dream Big?). Both boys have already gotten a free book each, and we should be getting another one tomorrow. I LOVE libraries! (Have I said that before?)

Playgrounds: Oh, the playgrounds we've seen! There's the elementary school behind our house that has an outside water fountain (score!). There's the elementary school in the opposite direction that has three different sets of There's the playground next to and part of the Shaker Library with the two levels and the giant slide and all the other kids (a playground part of a library?? Why doesn't everyone do this??). There's the playground at the school adjacent to the next nearest library that has SWINGS, Toddler E's favorite, something most of the other playgrounds lack, sadly. There's the preschool playground that's small and intimate and right across the street and J loves it but it's covered in dirty (though, thankfully, smooth) pebbles so it's not my favorite but still we visit. There's the playground down the street a little further that now has a porta-potty (another score!). And then there's every playground we uncover everywhere we go. We are playground diehards, my friends. Don't mess!

The Zoo: We are getting our money's worth out of our zoo membership this year. Summer visiting is just as fun as winter visiting AND you get to feed the giraffes!

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