Seven, Three, and Simplicity

In the past three months, Jude has turned seven, Ramona has turned three, and I’ve been lucky enough to have at least one or two really wonderfully simple days with the kids.

For Jude’s seventh birthday party, we created a pop-up adventure playground for him and his friends. For around two hours, the kids (and adults!) used different materials to create some really amazing things (houses, boats, etc.). We had huge cardboard boxes on that that we had picked up from a not-so-local recycling center; large cardboard tubes from bolts of fabric; paper bags; fabric; markers; tape; scissors; and a bunch of other things. Oh! Also, cupcakes. Lots of those, as well.

Ramona’s birthday party was a bit more low-key than her brother’s. We invited friends to join us at a local park and play there for a few hours. We decorated and brought snacks and coffee to share, of course. And THERE WERE MANY CUPCAKES, as well. It was a lovely morning that melted into a lunch out with friends (lovely!) and our first family outing to play putt-putt (so fucking miserable).

And then, today! We had such a nice day, today. Mostly, this summer has been lacking in the heat department, but today was 90-degrees-hot. To be honest, after testing the waters on a short 2-mile run this morning, I didn’t want to take the kids out to get sweaty and tired. And, since Jude has circus camp in the afternoons, I figured that chilling out at home was a better idea than expending all his energy before four hours of constant movement and exertion. So. We stayed home. Jude spent a good bit of the morning Skyping with a friend while playing Minecraft with her on his Realm. Ramona and I worked our way through the awesome birthday gifts she was given: reusable stickers, a board game, some crayons and paper… Then, when I had to stop to wash dishes and make lunch, Jude happily took a break from the computer to hang out with Ramona, which was a real gift. We ate lunch, and then I helped Jude get ready for camp. After seeing him off, Ramona and I continued to play with her new toys. This time, water colors and paper tape and some sort of magnetic-y sand. And then, when I realized we needed to go to the market to get stuff for dinner, the girl happily got ready and walked along side me to the market.

The best part of the day was that it ended as well as it began. Jude and I read for about an hour together-a rare treat these days. We usually top out at about 30 minutes or so. Because circus camp require so much energy, we try to make sure he can be in bed by 8pm, and we ‘re lucky if we’re finished with dinner by 7:30pm. But, tonight Ramona wanted yogurt after she finished her ice cream, so I continued to read and read and read. Finally, the kids had used the bathroom, brushed their teeth, and changed their clothes… sleep came quickly for them both. Soon, it will be my turn.

Right Now

Right now, my entire family is asleep. I’ll be headed there shortly, but first, I wanted to take advantage of the quiet to think and write down some things I’ve been thinking about and experiencing lately. In no particular order…

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A Collection of Thoughts

Over the past few days, I’ve had the urge to write, but haven’t had the time. This evening, I have the time but not much focus. So, instead of a cohesive story, I offer you some snippets and a glance into a few different aspects of our lives.

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Napless in Chicago

Today marked two weeks of Ramona not napping. I. Am. Exhausted.

During the past two months or so, the girl had been fighting her mid-day nap tooth and nail. Then, THEN, she would fight sleep for an hour (sometimes an hour and a half) at night. Ramona not falling asleep until 9:30pm meant me not going to bed until *at least* 11pm, and that just wasn’t sustainable. So, Josh and I decided to see how the wildling would do sans nap. The result? Besides me being fucking tired all time time, you mean? Well, amazingly, it worked. Ramona can make it through the day (most days) without napping (unless we’re traveling in a car-in that case, all bets are off), and only gets extra cranky starting around 6pm. However, she’s also noticeably tired, which is something she hadn’t been for a long time. Bedtime takes, at most, 20 minutes, but usually it’s closer to 10 or 15. For Josh and me, this means we’re getting to bed at a (slightly) more reasonable hour, even while feeding my Doctor Who addiction.

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Cabin Fever

Two days ago, I snapped.

This winter has been the coldest, snowiest, and most miserable winter of my 32 years on this planet. Chicago has had more days with a high temperature BELOW ZERO than I’d care to count. The kids and I have been home (mostly) and dealing (mostly) all winter. We’ve read books and watched movies, played LEGOs and built forts. We’ve swung on our indoor swing and jumped on our trampoline. We’ve had dance parties. We’ve napped. We’ve painted pictures, played (Don’t) Burp (Break) the Ice, mined in underwater caves in Minecraft, visited museums, and had coffee dates with our artist friends… but it’s just not enough.

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Turning In

Lately, I’ve been spending much of free time (read: minutes stolen, here and there) delving into radical unschooling books (right now- Free to Learn by Peter Gray), listservs, and (egads!) Facebook groups. One piece of advice that keeps cropping up is “turn in.” Turn in to your family. Look inward. Find joy within, rather than without. Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been being intentional in doing just that.

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Theatre, Darling

Dear Rogers Park neighbors: Stop what you’re doing right now and go and get yourself a subscription to the 2013-2014 KidsSeries at Lifeline Theatre. Don’t walk. Run. Seriously.

This afternoon, Lifeline Theatre had an open house for the first show in their 2013-2014 KidsSeries lineup, Click, Clack, Boo! Jude and I have been to a few of these open houses in the past, and they’re always a ton of fun. Today we got a sneak peak of the show, and, wow. Really. WOW. I am always impressed by the productions put on by Lifeline, but today, I was blown away. The acting, even just two weeks into rehearsals, was top notch, and the music? The music was awesome. Catchy and fun and funny. Jude was literally on the edge of his seat listening and watching.

After seeing a bit of the show, the Education Director at Lifeline (Lea Pinsky) came out to talk to the kids and get them started on some really neat Halloween crafts. Jude usually isn’t a crafty kid, but he really, really enjoyed making the ghost puppet and jack-o-lantern mask Lea had planned out for them. While that was going on, the adults chatted or took a tour of the theatre. At the end of the program, I did the only thing I could after having been wowed and awed and amazed: I walked my butt up to the ticket counter and paid for two subscriptions for the season.

Please, neighbors, take my advice–get a subscription for everyone in your family. We’ve seen every show in the KidsSeries since 2010, and we have not yet been disappointed. You won’t be either. Promise.

 

Butterflies

I made the promise to myself (as well and Josh and the kids) that this year would be the year I suck it up, get some museum memberships, and take the kids on a regular basis. Doing this will be no small feat-we don’t have a car, and the closest museum we have interest in is the Nature Museum, and that takes at least half an hour, if not 45 minutes to get to via public transit. Let’s just say that an hour or more of travel time makes for a very long outing. So, getting to these museums is the first obstacle. The second is the age gap between Jude and Ramona. Jude is six. He’s definitely at the point where he wants to take his time and look at things and ask questions. Ramona, on the other hand, is two. She likes to run. Full stop. Can you see how this might be a problem?

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Together, Together, Together

Last week flew right on by me. Mostly, I kept my head down and focused on getting through the hot temperatures that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday held and then basked in the sweet relief of cooler temperatures for the rest of the week. Also-the kids and I had some really good days, so while I was tired at the end of each (and every) night, it wasn’t the “I’m-going-to-pull-my-hair-out-because-I-have-a-six-year-old-and-a-two-year-old” kind of tired. And for that, I was grateful.

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Holding it Together

Some days, I just have my shit together. Not always, but sometimes. Today was a good day. A day when, even though I was on my own with the kids for almost 15 hours, and even though I was in considerable pain all day, I got shit done, and held my shit together.

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