Photo: That is a very healthy dogwood sapling that we found while cleaning up the yard two weeks ago. I decided to replant it in a different part of the yard, and Ursa Minor helped. Observing it, watering it, and tracking it will be one of our summer projects this year. School ends this week and I need SOMETHING to do with myself and these boys!
I need to start this post by saying that I drove from Massachusetts to Maryland and back this weekend. That’s 16 hours in a car, folks! My back is singing. Screeching, actually. When it isn’t screeching, it’s straight up pointing and laughing at the Advil I took a little while ago. I haven’t had this kind of back pain since I was pregnant with Ursa Minor. I’ll be lucky if I can walk by the end of the day. 🙁
But that isn’t really what I want to write about today. As I was riding around this weekend, a thought came to me: This is the last week of school.
The last week of school.
This is remarkable for a lot of reasons. First, obviously, it’s the end of Ursa Major’s first year of school, which is really exciting. It’s a long journey, but he has taken his first steps, and he has had a really successful year. I’ll write more about what I’ve learned about him and our upcoming challenges and opportunities on Wednesday. Second, this week marks the end of this crazy cycle that we started about this time last year: We were just beginning the process of packing up the old apartment and preparing to move to the townhouse, remember? And about a year ago, this house entered the market and I saw the listing for it… it’s so crazy how fast everything goes. Third, the end of the school year marks the start of summer… the last summer that both of the boys will have no sort of structured something to do as they are both too young for any camps this year. That means that Camp Mama(wannacryah) is opening on Saturday.
The Summer represents a lot of opportunities and challenges, as I am losing my two windows a week when I have one baby instead of two. Tuesday morning grocery shopping is about to be a huge pain in the ass. Not having the two school days, though, means that we can change up the structure of the week, so that I can feel like I’m successful in keeping the house running smoothly and they can feel like their days are full of fun and maybe a little learning.
But I’m also thinking about how best to spend these few weeks together. I don’t want it to be wasted in front of TV, or fighting over the same 3 toys, or me yelling and screaming at them constantly. As we’re not taking a big family vacation this year, there won’t be some event to look forward to and break up the time. I’ve gotta come up with some plans to keep the boys engaged and happy, but also keep me sane.
Good thing I’m a teacher, right? I’m thinking about measurable goals, plans for emergencies, a few field trips, and a tangible product or two so that way we can look back at the end of the summer and say that we did something with our time. Here is where I am so far:
By the end of Summer, Ursa Major Will Be Able To:
1. Use the potty (during the day): We aren’t using the potty. We aren’t even trying to use the potty. And you know what? That’s my fault. I’ve kept putting it off and finding excuses, and we just can’t do it anymore. He’s too big to wrestle, his diapers are too expensive to be sustainable much longer, and it’s hard for me to send him off on playdates because I don’t want to ask other moms to change his diaper. I think we need some tough love: I’m buying big-boy underroos this week and we’re going cold-turkey. I’m turning my mind over to a Summer of Accidents, but I’m hoping that I can send that boy to school in September in underroos without (too much) worry. I recognize that the night-time potty situation is going to be a little funky… so we’re going to start with daytime first.
2. Take on one chore: I am ready for Ursa Major to take on one responsibility, and I think that is going to be clearing the table after dinner…. maybe just the plates at first, but hopefully, by the end of the summer, the whole shabang. He likes helping his father “clean the dishes” by playing in the sink after dinner anyhow… let’s turn that into something productive.
3. Learn how to breathe: Ursa Major’s first instinct when he’s angry is to scream. It doesn’t matter how big or small the infraction is. His teachers say that they don’t really experience it at school, but I experience it all the time at home. I’m going to start asking him, when he’s angry, to stop, separate himself, and take a few deep breaths. We’ve got to re-learn some self-control.
By the end of the summer, Ursa Minor Will Be Able To:
1. Accept a timeout and sit for the full 2 minutes: I’m having a hard time disciplining Ursa Minor and it’s starting to create other problems around following directions and what not. This is because I’ve been inconsistent with putting him in timeout when it has done something wrong. That’s my fault. Gotta be more consistent here so that we can have some ease in other areas.
2. Begin to greet other people: I’d really like for Ursa Minor to be able to better interact with other people that we meet. He often doesn’t say “hello” when spoken to in public, even if I prompt him. He just buries his head in my neck or shoulder. This doesn’t happen all the time, but some of the time. It would be nice if he could say hello when prompted, and tell someone his name if asked. That might be a little difficult, but he’ll be 2 1/2 by end of summer… I feel like that’s possible.
By the end of the Summer, Both Boys Will Be Able To:
1. (At least pretend to) Pick up toys at the end of the day: I know that the playroom will never be “clean” until I actually do it. But I’d love for the cleanup song to be sung and for a couple of toys to end up in designated places at the end of each day this summer. I just want to start the good habit of “We make a mess during the day, but we clean up at the end.” It would just be nice to start that early.
On the mommy side of things, I have to do the following:
1. Come up with a Rainy Day plan (outside of the house): It has been a rainy spring, and I know that we will have some long bouts of rain in the summertime, too. It’s easy for me to see the rain and just turn on a movie. I’m now collecting little games and materials to do on rainy days just so we can break things up. I think I’m also going to keep an eye on the forecast and come up with a group of reliable moms who we can visit or have visit us on rainy days.
2. Come up with a Hot Day plan: Massachusetts usually has 2 weeks of “bad” summer weather: when it’s 90 or above and humid. It’s usually that last week of July, first week of August. It’s easy to get the boys out early, but they can’t be out in that all day. Again, I think with some forethought, a beach fieldtrip with another family can be arranged… otherwise, I really need to figure out of my local library is awesome. Speaking of which:
3. Find at least one field trip to do each week: I need to do this on the cheap, but I’d like to rotate at least one thing every week that isn’t the playground, which we’ll do at least once a week. So, our favorite farm, the library, maybe the aquarium in Boston, there is a children’s museum in MetroWest and also one in Boston… I can’t go crazy, but we’ve gotta do something once a week to break up the weeks.
And as for the tangible products?
1. We’re going to start an “observations” journal about the front yard. They are always finding ants and butterflies, and I’d like to record something new that they discover every day. And seeing as we’re always out there digging and planting, I’d like for them to start looking at the plants and grass and observe any changes. This is going to be a rough task for Ursa Minor, who might not participate at all, but I think that Ursa Major is going to have fun with it.
2. We’re going to start a Moon Journal: This is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, because both of the boys are fascinated with the moon. If we see it, we’ll talk about it, and hopefully draw it in a little journal I’m going to make for them. This will, hopefully, turn into a fun art project on the rainy days. I hope that I’ll have little stories of theirs to record, too: What is the moon doing? Why is it where it is today? What color is it and why? This, I hope, can we something that we do from now on.
I have some other tricks in mind… I bought that Martha Stewart craft book, and I have some preschool curriculum books, too. I’m going to be doing some structural stuff to the blog starting in July (including moving over from .com to .org with my own URL, I think), and I hope to post some of the successes (and failures) that happen along the way. Three more school days and then the adventure begins!