Did I mention in my last post that June is one of my least favorite months? Well, if you don't like something, change. A couple of weeks ago I went to a fun Power of Moms Retreat hosted by my dear friend Elsje. One of the main ideas I came away with was that I need to work on having more fun WITH my kids, not just providing fun FOR my kids. A good example: On Fridays I try to get out of the house and take the kids somewhere. A couple of weeks ago I took them mini golfing, etc., at the Trafalga Fun Center since we have a pass. They had a great time, I had a so-so time. It was hot, crowded, and I was carrying a 20 lb baby in a Snugli for two hours while keeping an eye on the others. There were some funny moments, like every time Macy swung the club, she had to do this little song and dance (A ONE and a TWO and a ONE TWO THREE!) and then she'd usually miss. Anyway, I felt like a good mom getting them out of the house, especially since they had earned it by doing so good with their morning chores all week. But, I didn't look forward to it, didn't reallly get to relax, and don't really want to go back anytime soon. (Next time it can be Mark's turn.) So, what can be done? I want to be a fun mom and have fun, too--and not just count my weekend date, or eating (in general), or reading at the lunch table fun. (Yes mom, in my own house, I set the rules. Any comers are allowed to actually read at the breakfast table or the lunch table, but not the dinner table--that's reserved for eye contact.)
At that retreat, the instructor suggested thinking of some things that you used to really have fun doing as a kid. I made a short list and was surprised at myself as it kept getting longer.
When I got home that afternoon, I asked my hubby to pitch the tent in the backyard. Gratefully, he didn't even blink at that idea and with a little help from Leslie, it was soon up. Would this scheme work?
Growing up we had THE ugliest tent. As in, it could have won an ugliest tent EVER award. You probably won't even believe me, but it was colored like a faded circus tent, orange and yellow SCALLOPED AWNINGS and striped and all, with a dark green tarp floor. Do we have any surviving pictures, Mom? It was a huge, heavy canvas beast with aluminum poles that only mom knew how to put together. We got it used, and I'm guessing it was from the seventies when orange and mustard yellow were kings. Think of tupperware.
Since we lived in Montana where the summers are a bit cooler, not many people use automatic sprinklers. We got by fine with the hose or irrigation, even with our extensive yard. This means that we could leave our tent up for weeks if we wanted to. (And once it was up, it usually stayed up for weeks because we would forget about it, it would get soaked in a thunderstorm, and then we'd have to leave it out to dry. Once it was dry, well, why take it down?) I'm also now realizing that we probably always set it up in the back of the house because I was embarrassed at how ugly it was. Sounds like me, even though maybe one old ditchrider probably drove past on our dirt road on any given day. And the mailman. Did I mention that it smelled bad? That tent was so much fun.
Almost as soon as Mark got the tent up, the kids decided they wanted to sleep in it, so it soon filled up with mats, sleeping bags and pillows. I made a point of lounging around in it, (what?!?) just cuddling my baby and watching the kids be goofy jumping on all the bedding. That night we played Pictionary in the tent with the whole family with our white board and dry erase markers. It was hilarious. And fun. I later told Mark, I think it helped to be in the tent because then I wasn't looking around, noticing who forgot to put their shoes away, or the crumbs on the rug, or the ever present formula powder mess on my counter. Or watching the clock to see if we were past bedtime or not. The kids "slept" in the tent and Mark and the baby and I stayed in the house.
This week has also turned out to be surprisingly fun and filled with adult worthy culture. Fun lesson two: It's okay to take your kids to things that YOU want to do sometimes and expect fun to happen (as long as you don't set the bar too high.) They might enjoy themselves. Yesterday we went to the Round Up Days art show. It was very small, but it was new and different and got us out of the house. The kids were excellent and all chose their favorite piece. Afterwards, it was hot and they didn't even want to go to a playground, so we just came home.
This morning happened to be Leslie's Summer Band concert. I sat in the nice stadium seating with the kids and the baby in his car seat (I even snuck him some applesauce). Leslie did great and made me so grateful that she has chosen the flute instead of a horky clarinet.
The kids loved the concert and applauded enthusiastically. The boys were particularly excited to hear the Mission Impossible theme song by the low brass and the Batman theme song. Then, we had a surprise treat and the Lehi High School Marching band came in and did a few numbers, drum rolls and all. I love marching bands. The intensity of it all always makes me tear up a little...don't know why...the drums maybe? The power of the surround sound? I don't know. At least there weren't bagpipes, then I really would have been a mess. Maybe it's genetic. My Auntie Michiel cries when she takes off in an airplane...I suspect it's a similar thing. I soaked it up and kept my emotions in check, although Cooper (who has a serious radar on me) gave me some searching looks. Then I noticed that the kids were cracking each other up by pretending to be startled out of their seats every time the cymbals crashed. What a riot.
When we got home and the boys were still trying to copy the Mission Impossible theme song (incorrectly since they hadn't really heard it before) I had a fun idea. At our house, we love to listen to Pandora radio, loud and proud. I've got a toddler station for Macy when she's emptying silverware, Leslie likes Taylor Swift, the boys love One Direction and used it this week outside while weeding, Mark likes Michael Buble when we have company, and I've even channeled my Grandma LaVonne and have recently started listening to opera--and liking it--especially when I'm cooking Italian things. In fact, I turn it on purposely when I'm making Italian because it's just so much more fun to fling cheese on your pizza when Luciano's singing "La Donna Mobile". Today I made a Mission Impossible station. It was awesome and I would recommend it to all parents of rowdy boys. It mostly played soundtracks from spy and adventure movies. The boys were in their costumes running all over the house to the tune of Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and The Incredibles. Imagination vibes were probably glowing out of the cracks of our house.
Then this afternoon we went to the free admission day at our local museum. Also very fun.
So, I figure, if I count Cooper reading some Shel Silverstein poetry to me this morning, we had a pretty full week. Fine arts, music, drama and literature. Yes, with some video games thrown in there too. (Hey, it was 100 degrees today.) And last night we had pizza at our favorite splash park, and I spent some time lying on a messy picnic blanket looking at the sky. Summer has arrived.
PS. I guess my idea of fun doesn't involve carrying a camera around, or even a cell phone. Sorry for the lack of visual interest.