21 July 2009

Dog Days of Summer

Every summer I wait for it to happen. I wait for that particular feeling that comes. The one where you know it is summer. The feeling you get when you’re in the midst of the dog days of summer.

Bright sunny days. Warm dry heat that wraps your skin. Sweat that trickles from your brow. Hot black pavement that burns your feet. Sounds of crickets fill the air. Ice cream quickly melting into a drippy stream on your fingers. Endless quest for a neighbourhood pool. Kids laughing on bikes while streamers fly through the air. A pail full of frogs. Drinking cold water from a hose. Reading a book under a large shady tree in the middle of the afternoon. Tall, cool glasses of lemonade or ice tea. Smells of BBQ waft through the air. Packs of kids roam through the neighbourhood inventing new games to play. Freedom. Lazy. Leisurely. Ensuing boredom.

When I think of my childhood, this is the montage that plays in my mind. Conversely, when I look at my kids’ summers, this is the montage we’re creating for them.

Scheduled weekdays and unscheduled weekends. Family rafting trip. Endless summer day camps both general and themed. Sleep-away summer camp. Family camping trip. Hikes to Gatineau park. Room cleaning. House cleaning. Bike ride around the street. Ice cream. Rain. More rain. Gardening. Feeding spiders. BBQ. Video game playing. Absence of other kids outside scheduled programs.

I love summer and I long for the days where neighbourhood kids could run wild and roam the streets. When neighbourhoods were full of kids who knocked on each others doors and called one another out to play. I think my kids could have that, only there aren’t really any kids in our neighbourhood.

Across the street, there are two kids the same age as ours, only they aren’t full fledged residents as they visit their Dad on alternating weekends. When around, the sibling pairs are only able amuse each other for an hour or so before their interests diverge. There is another sibling group around the corner, but they’re Francophone. While they speak English, they’re not in the least bit impressed that our kids are unilingual, and have no desire to include Anglophones in their social group. There’s only one other girl on the street, and while she’s the exact same physical age as Bella, maturity wise she’s about 2-3 years ahead.

As a result of a playmate drought, our kids entertain themselves and play with one another. In and of itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our kids have incredible imaginations that they exercise through The Game and other kid-inspired forms of entertainment. It’s just that, gulp, they never really, really, really get bored.

I was bored as a child. After a few weeks, the endless days of finding stuff to do left me unstimulated. I constructed elaborate fantasies about attending a sleep-away summer camp. But, I was never allowed to go. I imagined have the opportunity to go to day camps, but those were few and far between. Instead, my mother hired a nanny from Quebec to care for me and my two siblings in the summer. The nanny took the job to work on her English, which meant that she spent very little time being able to actually interact with us for the majority of the summer.

Inadvertently, I’ve constructed the summers of my dreams for my kids rich with summer camps and family trips and lacking elements from the nostalgic montage I constructed above.

02 July 2009

Photo Post

There's been no time for blogging lately because my life has been consumed with the spring sports season which finally came to a close last weekend.

We've never put the kids in high time investment activities at the same time before. With football being 5 weeks and softball 7, we thought we'd give it a try. All of this sporting added about 10 hours a week in additional commitments to our already busy schedule. It was exhausting, but worth it.

Can you just eat up this cuteness?


It wasn't always cute, however. There were many memorable "you're going to football, dammit" moments.

Thankfully, football only happened on weekends. Softball, on the other hand, happened on both weekends and weeknights. Games that started at 6:00 pm. Who has time to pick up your kids, get them fed, try to squeeze in some homework and get out to a field when your own workday doesn't end until 5:00 pm? Especially, since at least one game of the week was 20 or 30 minutes from our house.


We developed a strategy. We always made practice and one (conveniently located) game each week.

Softball with pre-teen/teen girls was an adventure unto itself. I give the coach ultimate praise for enduring. There's nothing more comical than missed catches because the girls' were too busy talking. Or, they weren't wearing their gloves.

Ever so the recreational league, the coach developed a habit of not telling them which team won the game until it was over and they had completed their regularly scheduled lecture on how they needed to support each other better as a team instead of playing or eating when they were waiting to bat or sitting off an inning. Funny thing is that score never really mattered to the girls. Not one of them ever bothered to keep score themselves. They never asked the parents, coach or ref what the score was throughout the game. They were always pleasantly surprised when they won. And, they didn't really care if they lost.

Bella and Buballo's biggest fan? My #1 pooch.