Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Fun Club 1 and 2

We've survived, pretty successfully, our first week of summer break.  Here's how we're spending our time.

Most mornings, we have swim lessons for Ginger and Hazel at a nearby club that we don't belong to.  We're on the waiting list, but that means we have to leave after lessons.  Bummer.  But that, my friends, is the nature of the Arlington pool club rat race.  And that's another post.

Then we do some activity or errand - Costco, playdate, park, library, etc. before coming home for lunch.  After lunch, Poppy goes down for a nap and we all have an hour of "down time."  This means I go in my room and close the door.  I read or rest, and that's how, to everyone's benefit, I don't burn out before bed time.  Hazel and Ginger are on their own in the house to play, read, draw, write, etc.

But not watch TV.  TV and computer games have gone largely unregulated around here the last few years, and especially since Poppy was born.  This summer I'm taking it back.  I made Ginger and Hazel big binders of age-appropriate worksheets, mostly from, and there's also a pocket folder with a slim journal/reading log for each.  They can do them any time, and hand in six worksheets, or four and a reading log, for 30 minutes of screen time.  Monday, they each did a dutiful six and received 30 minutes, which they each carefully split - Ginger had 15 TV/ 15 iPhone; Hazel 15 computer/ 15 iPhone (they like the More Donuts! app.)  Tuesday, they didn't even think about it (I don't know if they were too busy or just don't want to do the worksheets.  I like to think it's that they don't miss TV.)

After down time, around 2 o'clock, we have Summer Fun Club.  As I mentioned before, this was a genius invention-of-desperation of my mom's, that had a lasting impression on me, and is one of my oldest and strongest summer memories.  It's not really about what you do.  It's about having time set aside, for something planned, which gives us all something to look forward to.  Having a plan is the key.  Hazel likes to know what it is ahead of time; Ginger likes it to be a surprise.  Either way, each is happy.

1 - Monday, we had our first meeting.  We discussed how SFC will work and took suggestions for activities (Ginger wants an "inside field trip" - to another room.  Hazel wants, of course, to cook.)  Then we made our membership cards - cutting, gluing, coloring, stickers - and slipped them in badge holders.  We will wear them for every meeting.

  We also cleaned up the office - the most neglected room in our house (and that is saying something) - so we can have a nice place to work and meet this summer.

2 - Tuesday we wrote cards to Aunt Natalee, Ed's sister on a mission in Romania.  I brought out my stationary drawer, full of nice note cards they could choose from.  They each wrote a note and drew a picture.  Then we placed them, and some photos I'd collected, in a large manilla envelope and addressed it.  We will be mailing it Friday as part of our Summer Fun Club field trip that day.

After SFC we have a snack, and have "free time."  Hazel must practice guitar but they are otherwise free to play, do worksheets, redeem for screen time, play outside, etc.  Then we have dinner - alas!  this is the last week of Dinner Swap!!! - followed by chores/dishes, baths, and bed.

It's SOOO nice to have a break from homework and other impositions.  We can do baths every night if we want (they love baths.)  We can read a couple extra chapters at bedtime and it's no big whoop if they turn in at 8:45 instead of 8:15.  And that hour in the middle of the day when I get a "required" break is like magical manna from heaven - Ed is quite sage for suggesting it.

Stay tuned for the next couple meetings of SFC!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Hazel is really into cooking.  Really.  She currently wants to be a pastry chef and seems to have an insatiable appetite for watching, helping, and learning from me in the kitchen.  We never seemed to have enough time for that during the school year, but we're going to boost her skill set and experience as much as possible this summer.  On that note, here's the conversation we just had this evening.

Hazel - "Mom, you know what I want for Christmas or whatever the closest gift holiday is, which is Christmas?"


"A cooking set.  And I want you to sign me up for cooking classes."

What's in "a cooking set?"

"A bowl, a whisk, a wooden spoon, teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cups, and, if you think I can handle it, a filter."

What's a "filter?"

"Not the thing that has the little holes, but the thing that we squeezed the lemons to make lemonade."

Strainer (not colander.)


What kind of cooking classes do you want to take?

"I want to take gourmet cooking classes." (pronounced GER-met)

How do you know that word?

"I read it in The Fran with Four Brains.  She took germet cooking classes."

What does that word mean?

"I don't know.  I just read it.  But I think it means serious cooking.  What does it mean?"

That's pretty good.  It does mean serious cooking.  And fancy.  And sometimes difficult.

"Aah, that's 'germet.'"

Ginger - "Are you guys talking about Kermit the frog over there?!"

"Ginger, no, GER-met.  It means difficult."

What kind of things do you want to learn how to cook?

"A Thanksgiving turkey,
every kind of bread,
about every kind of dessert,
and something like stuffing.
Ice cream,
pumpkin chocolate chip muffins by myself (without your help, Mama.)
And that's pretty much all."

It's like a dream come true, in daughter form.  I know the county offers all kinds of cooking classes; I've taken a few.  She's totally old enough to do one with me, especially a baking one, like cupcakes.  And she also wants me to shop for her at a cooking store. Christmas for Hazel, DONE.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Is...ON

Yesterday the weather reached ONE HUNDRED DEGREES.  As if that message wasn't clear enough, today is the last day of school.   

We thought we'd start the summer off by me throwing the baby shower of the century tonight (woot!), and potty training Poppy on Saturday.  Then Sunday I need to have a serious, very serious, planning session with myself.  Because starting Monday, I, as MOM, am ON. 

When I was young, my Mom would take us on a rotation of morning outings in the summer - swim lessons, library, park, etc.  Once in awhile there was a craft project at home.  All this was done under the diabolically clever name, "Summer Fun Club", which I still remember as being way more amazing and fun than my Mom does.  Then, in the afternoons, we were on our own to read, play, imagine, ride bikes, and cavort with the neighborhood kids until dinner.  The summers all blur together but my general memory is that they were awesome.

Some things are the same these days; some, different.  I've been making mental plans for a few months now of how I want to structure our summer days so we are all busy - and happy - enough, but not over scheduled.  I have a knack for setting impossible targets like that.  Mostly I just want to avoid, to a realistic extent, 1) justified whining, "I'm bored!", and 2) too much screen time, which is what happens when I fail to plan.

So.  Let me pull my act together and next week I'll report on what and how we're doing.  In the meantime, let's hear how you handle summer with your school kids home.  And to get the ball rolling, here's a great post from my sister's blog - Mom, What Can I Do? - and one from the Local Living section of the Washington Post yesterday - Summer on the Brain

It's good to know that if all else fails, I can enroll the girls in an SAT prep course. 
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