Monday, 1 September 2014

What I learned over summer vacation

There are tell-tale triads of yellow leaves peaking through the green foliage outside my window. It's September 1st - the beginning of the Church Year, the school year, and the cooling of my little corner of the globe. It's time to say goodbye to summer (while leaving indian summer some strong hints that's she's more than welcome to come on by), and link up with Emily to look back on what I learned. It's been a full and fun vacation, and I'm sad to see it go.

Here's what I learned over July and August:

My son needs to be reintroduced to the pool every summer - before swimming lessons start. I have a tendency to forget that my son can be shy. When he's in his element, he's buoyant - jumping impulsively from task to activity with joyous enthusiasm. Put him in a new situation, or a crowded space, however, and the shy steps forward and puts the whirlwind on pause. He'll sit and observe - sometimes for a good half hour - before tentatively joining in. So most of July's swim lessons involved thirty minutes spent trying to coax him into action, followed by a second thirty minutes explaining why he couldn't go in the pool now because his lesson was over. Staging my own lesson on a cool afternoon (when an outdoor pool becomes a quiet - if chilly - oasis) gave him enough time and space to get comfortable in the shallow pool, but the deep end's required life-jacket just wasn't happening this summer. At the end of the two weeks, he'd only participated in two of the nine days of lessons, but still learned 75% of what was required for his report card. Next year, we'll have a pool day or three before lessons start, and have try to have his lesson come after his sister's instead of before. And I'll try not to be too disappointed if my "chat or read while the kids are occupied" vision doesn't come to pass.

Deep Woods Off will take permanent marker off of walls. But all that liberal spraying won't keep the bugs at bay.  As glad as I am to have that trick in my arsenal should I forget to put away the sharpies, I'm not sure I want to know what's in that stuff - or use it on my skin in the future.

A resolute prairie girl can show some love to the mountains. As most of my family still lives in my old hometown, almost all our family vacations have taken us east across the prairie to my parents' place. After years of saying how silly it is that we never go, we finally took our little family in the opposite direction and drove out to the Rockies. My daughter was amazed to discover that the scenery from "Rocky Mountain Express" was real and ooohed and aaahed enough on the drive in to Canmore to make up for her brother's insistence that he didn't see any mountains. 'Mountain' is kind of hard to define for a four year old - especially when it's cloudy. Between the view from the hotel, our short hike up to Grassi Lakes, and the clearer skies back out to Calgary, I think he got the idea. And when we did drive out east to Grandma & Grandpa's, no one complained the prairies were boring by comparison. We'll be back again.

Gin is actually elaborately flavoured vodka. Make vodka, throw in some botanicals, and let it sit. Filter it clear, and you've got gin. Store it in a barrel, and it'll get the colour and flavour it used to have long before it became the Queen Mum's favourite drink. While we were out visiting, my Dad took my husband and I for a tour of Saskatoon's new micro-distillery. It was educational and dangerously delicious. I highly recommend the oaked gin, the rum, and the saskatoon berry liqueur. Our liquor cabinet is fearfully and wondrously stocked. I look forward to their first run of rye.

Coconut yogurt popsicles are just as good a summer snack as I'd hoped. I may never make juice pops again. Yum.

Getting to know one's neighbours is worth the awkward. Last winter, I discovered that our neighbour down the street goes to my son's preschool. We've run into them frequently since over drop-offs and pick-ups, but I hadn't gotten up the nerve to take them up on the repeated invitation to "come over any time". The thought of knocking on their door uninvited sounded daunting - I didn't want to interrupt or impose but I didn't have a way to call ahead. Fortunately, our neighbours on the other side showed me how it's done: walk your child over like it's Halloween, and invite their child out to play. If no one comes to the door, or the answer is "no, sorry",  you say "oh well, maybe another time" and walk back home. Or, in our case, walk the other direction and try a different door. It turns out that while both sets of neighbours are sometimes as busy as I feared, other days they're lonely or overwhelmed with the task of taking care of small children while their families are far, far away. A playmate to occupy a child or a bit of adult conversation is as welcome to them as it is to me. If we moms don't have time to chat, the kids can roam from house to yard to house while we all get on with our daily tasks in our respective houses, knowing we can find each other in minutes should the need arise. I felt my walls expand outward - the safe and known world just got a little bigger. I hope my neighbours feel the same.

That's it for this round. September, here we come!

4 comments:

  1. The trip to the mountains sounds lovely!

    I like your tip on getting to know your neighbors. Sometimes I just need to move out of my comfort zone.

    I'm visiting from the link-up at Chatting at the Sky.

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    1. The trip was wonderful! I'm so glad we made it happen. As yes to comfort zones. Thankfully, my kids thought it was completely normal to wander on by. As they should :) Thanks for the visit!

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  2. Coconut yogurt popsicles - yum! Visiting from Chatting at the Sky - have a great week!

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    1. Full-fat greek yogurt, mind you ;) So, so tasty. Thanks for popping in - have a great week too!

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