Loving the Pace of Summer

Happy Wednesday, Friends.

And happy smokin’ hot summer days!  At least, if you live in my neck of the woods.  I am soaking up every last drop of this summer.  It has been tremendous not only in terms of what we’ve been doing but also in terms of weather.  And before anyone makes a smart crack about the humidity, I just want to remind you of this:

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SERIOUSLY.  THIS. ^^^^^.  Don’t even try to convince me that six feet of snow and five layers of clothing is better.  Because it just isn’t.  Actually, I take that back.  I love winter up until Christmas.  And then it just goes downhill from there all the way through late March.  Verdict?  Summer.   Longer days, warm nights, sun-kissed tans, no parkas.  Verdict?  Summer.

I find it fascinating that I live in a part of the world that goes from -35°C in February to +35°C in July.  Five months ago I could walk across the lake at our cottage and now I can comfortably swim across it.

Mind blown.

Speaking of comfortably swimming in a lake and returning to the point of this blog post, I’ve rather been enjoying the slower pace we chose this year.  We made the conscious choice to avoid scheduling much during July and August.  I read an incredible article this spring that inspired me to schedule less but not necessarily do less.  In fact, we’ve been pretty busy. We just choose our busy-ness as we go.  Based on the whim and fancy of what we want to do that day.

Want to build a fort?  Sure!

Want to play Scrabble?  You bet!

Want to play tag in the sprinkler?  Last one in their bathing suit is IT!

The kids are in two separate weeks of day camps (one in July and one in August) but other than that, there is nothing.  No organized sports.  Few play dates.  No “bucket lists”.  Just inspired by what the day brings and what we feel like doing.  We’ve accomplished a lot.

I’ll be honest that in the beginning the thought of it seemed daunting.  Nine whole weeks of unscheduled open-ness?  I thought for sure I would crack….and I fully admit to enjoying a white wine spritzer in the afternoons on the back porch as the kids run around {virtual fist bumps for the spritzer!}.  There are days the kids get bored and I had to be okay with that.  I also had to be okay with not filling that time for them.  I asked them to come up with their own activities and most times they do without *too* much complaining.

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Here are a few ideas for those families looking to do less yet connect more in August.  Most of these activities cost little to no money and require little to no preparation in advance.

  • Build a fort (inside or outside)
  • Take a hike
  • Read a book (we love Chronicles of Narnia and are taking a few weeks – if not months – to finish it as a family)
  • Paint rocks
  • Garden
  • Go geo-caching
  • Count stars at night
  • Go to a drive in movie
  • Catch bugs
  • Go swimming in a lake or a river or the beach
  • Run in the sprinkler
  • Blow bubbles
  • Watch clouds float in the sky
  • Make a scavenger hunt in your backyard
  • Climb a tree (and please, get up there with them!  It’s fun!)
  • Play board games (we even made our own)
  • Go to the library
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Make paper mache
  • Lemonade stand
  • Go fishing
  • Do yoga in your backyard 
  • Go on a picnic
  • Be a tourist in your hometown
  • Go on a day trip and let the kids decide when & where to turn (see where they take you!)
  • Hit up a provincial/state park
  • Make homemade ice cream

The ideas are simple and endless.  And thoroughly enjoyable.  And most importantly, we’ve found that we are seriously connecting with our kids more.  Sure, they still watch a movie here and there.  And my iPhone isn’t always turned off (how else do I share the photos of our fun but by posting them to Instagram!).  But I do find that we’re having more fun than we have in past summers.

AND with five more weeks of summer left, I’m looking for other ideas too – would love to hear about what you’re doing with your kids over the hotter months!

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Bucket List

The final in the four part series – your bucket list!  Do you have one?  A bucket list is simply a list of everything you want to do in your life…you know, before you kick the bucket.  Your list can be as wild and as outlandish as you want (versus the practicality of writing down personal and professional goals as noted in the two previous blog posts).  Want to go whale watching?  Write it down.  Want to learn to play guitar?  Write it down.  Want to fly to the moon?  Write it down (hey, you never know).

I love my bucket list.  I refer to it as my life list.  Only because I choose to focus on LIFE versus death.  That’s the optimist in me.  I read through it about once a week and as of this year, actively worked to cross things off of my list.  Last year, I attended an Opera (which honestly I didn’t love once I was there, but it was on my list of things to do).  This year, I’ve crossed four things off of my list – I did Tough Mudder, I deadlifted 200 pounds, I baked an apple pie from scratch, and in November we are taking our kids to Disney (but shhhhhh!  It’s a surprise for them.  If you keep the secret, I promise PROMISE to post the video of when we tell them).

The list should inspire you to think BIG.  Think outrageous.  Think about increasing your level of awesomeness on a grand scale.  Will you be able to check off everything?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The point is to have it and to work towards it.   Do you know how awesome it feels to say “hey, I’ve now done something on my LIFE LIST!”

For 2014….these are the list list things I want to check off:

CN Tower Edge Walk

CN Tower Edge Walk

Maybe there will be more.  I really want to skydive but that one scares the crap out of me, no lie.  I love to travel and would love the opportunity to do more around the world but with the kids so young right now, it’s limited.  Though I am always open to opportunities that may find their way into my world.

2014 really will be my best year yet.  Between everything I’m working towards in my personal and professional life and then the sheer fun of achieving things on my life list just makes me excited to see January 1st.  I hope I’ve inspired you to look as forward to the new year as I am.

(And in the meantime, why not make up a list of things to accomplish in the few weeks of 2013?  It gives you a headstart into the new year!)

T-24 hours

In exactly 24 hours, at 9:20AM, I start Tough Mudder.  I’m excited.  I’m nervous.  I’m ready.

For anyone not familiar with Tough Mudder, it is approximately an 11 mile course that goes up and down 7 ski hills and also comprises of 22 obstacles.  So basically a half marathon of craziness.

Obstacles such as Mud Mile.  Which is a really long walk through a whole bunch of mud.  I’m assuming that keeping my shoes on will be the biggest obstacle at this point.

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Then there is Everest.  From videos I’ve watched, this is where you run about 20 metres on flat ground and launch yourself up this arced wall in hopes that someone up at the top grabs your hand and pulls you up. There are a few who make it up on their own.  There are also some, like Savannah Guthrie of the Today Show who instead chin plant.

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This one is called Blades of Glory.  I’m not really sure what it’s all about but it looks kind of painful and awkward.

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Hay Bales.  I can do this one.  It doesn’t look too bad at all.

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Funky Monkey.  See the water below?  It’s cold.  Very very cold.  And I fully anticipate being in it quite quickly because going along 30 monkey bars is not something I’m going to be good at.

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Just the Tip.  I’m sure my fingers and toes will love this.

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Arctic Enema.  Wade through a bunch of really cold water that is chest deep.  Awesome.

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Hold Your Wood.  At least it’s a team obstacle.  I have an awesome team of five women who have been training for this with me.  I think at least one of them is holding it over my head that “I got them into it” but secretly they are excited.

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Claustrophobia anyone?  Pull yourself along upside down under a wire cage with the rest of your body submerged in cold water.

 

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Kiss of Mud.  Yes, those are barbed wires above.  Unlike this guy, I will be wearing a long sleeved shirt.  Barbed wire in my back does not excite me.

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Electric Eel.  Slide on your belly under electric wires.  Try not to get zapped.

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Electro Shock Therapy.  Remember how you could avoid the electric wires in the previous obstacle?  In this one, not so much.  Just run through and hope that you pick a path with no or very few electrified wires.  Good news…on the other side is the finish line.

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Ahh, the finish line.  Where a well-deserved “hose down” and a large beer are awaiting us.  The average race is 3.5 hours long.  I’m actually kind of giddy about this.  I really don’t care how long it takes me.  This is about teamwork.  Team Dirty Skirts (yes, that’s our name….we have awesome fuschia pink skirts to show it) is planning on starting and finishing together.

On the assumption I can move next Monday, I’ll post about the experience.

 

 

Fun

This weekend I realized that I didn’t have enough fun in my life.  I realized this after having a really fantastically fun Saturday evening at a hoe down.  Yes, a hoe down.  It was like being brought back to my college years in Atlanta where cowboy hats were a plenty and waitresses referred to you as “Sugar” (pronounced Shug-ah) or “Darling” (pronounced Dah-ling).   I will forever remember the first guy I met at a bar in the south.  His name was Boone and he wore a coonskin hat.  I couldn’t make this stuff up.

So back to Saturday night where my hubby and I had a date.  It was a date with 350 other people who were supporting a Builders For Change, a group of local individuals in the building trade who are going to the Dominican in February to build a community centre.  The hoedown was held on a beautiful property in Shanty Bay and proved to be a great party.  A great barn dance (including music by Jason McCoy – in person!!), a pig & corn roast dinner, and a big bonfire.  We had a great time and are really proud of Heather, our assistant at our office, who will be part of the crew headed to the DR in February.

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I reflected on Sunday about the amount of pure fun I have in my life.  I LOVE my life.  I really do – I have an incredible family and I relish the love and adventures that we have.  I love what I do in practice – adjusting and inspiring others to live healthier, more awesome lives.  I realized though that it had been a while since I just had fun.

When I read the Happiness Project a while back, what I took from it was for me, part of being happy meant carving out time for things I really love to do.  Knitting.  Puzzles.  Baking.  Cooking.  Reading.  And each of these activities makes me happy so I’ve made a point to create more time for each of them.  While doing each of these activities I could easily say I’m having fun but they are fairly predictable and easy to do when I want to.  The kind of fun I want to increase in my life is the type that requires not doing the easy things.  So I made a list of things I want to do before the end of the year:

Yeah, it’s only three things but honestly there is a lot going on between now and the end of the year.  And with three kids and a busy practice (and the rest of life in general), it’s hard to create time for fun things that require a lot of planning – time, money, care for the kids), etc.  But as a busy mom, fun for me definitely has been put on the back burner.  I’m sure other moms – and dads- can relate to this!

So, my question to you would be….if you had a day to yourself what would you do for pure fun?

Play

How often, as adults, do we truly play?  It’s become a four letter word.

Those people at the beach you see throwing a frisbee at 2PM on a Wednesday?  Slackers.

As you duck into the mall at 11AM on a Monday, do you wonder what all these people do with their lives if they’re at the mall?  (Never mind the fact they’re likely wondering the same about you)

People who go to the gym in the middle of the afternoon, do they not work?

What does the guy on the park bench reading a book do for a living that allows him to just….read?

I’ll admit I’ve thought similar thoughts.  My thoughts used to come from a place of disdain or envy.  Now they come from a place of appreciation and wonder.  I imagine that each of these people have created a life that allows them to do whatever they want, whenever they want.  Whether it’s frisbee, shopping for new clothes, working out, reading, or so much more.

Play time for me has become vital.  I carve out time in my schedule to work out.  I create time each day to play with my kids.  I love to do puzzles so I now work on a mess of 1000 pieces and try to create order out of its chaos. It helps me reconnect to my inner kid.  It helps me be a better parent.

This weekend we had an extraordinary adventure up to my mom and stepdad’s cottage on Lake Kawagama.  It was the type of day that we had been waiting for and expecting in August – hot, sunny, and just plain gorgeous.  We lounged on the dock.  We drank wine.  We ate.  We kayaked.  We swam.

The lake was chilly, I’m going to guess around 70 degrees.  It has been my experience that water temperature doesn’t make a difference to kids.  It’s summer.  They must swim.  So they do.  My inner water loving personality wanted to jump in but my toe told me differently.  That water was cold!  And I could have easily sat on the dock and sipped on my wine without jumping in.  But as I watched all three of our kids go in (even Maggie was dunked up to her waist or she sat on a rock in the water), and then Tom go in, the prevailing thought was “why not?”

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So, I jumped.  And I jumped, and jumped, and jumped.  It was so freeing to get in, get my hair wet, and have my entire body immersed in the cool water.  And then to jump in holding my six year old daughter’s hand (that won’t be a memory soon forgotten).  It was pure mama bliss.

I hope every mom has a picture like this.

I hope every mom has a picture like this.

 

So, jump.  Have fun.  Play.  You won’t regret it.  Promise.

I got over my guilt yesterday

Sometimes I find it fascinating that the Monday to Friday workweek puts such rules and restrictions in our society.  It’s not something I think about a lot, just every Monday when I enjoy my day with the kids while my husband, and most other working people, go off to work.  Four years ago I was told by a very wise chiropractor to organize one day of the “work” week to be home with my kids.  I took it to heart and  two years later was able to prioritize my life to make that a reality.  At first it was Fridays and then once Maggie arrived it became Mondays.  I love my Mondays.  It’s my day with the kids to do whatever we want to do.  We often go to the gym (if nothing is planned in the morning) but then we also have adventures to the park, the beach, a trail, the library, a museum, our backyard, or some other exciting locale.

Usually around 2PM though, in the midst of all this fun, I feel a twinge of guilt.  Guilt that asks if I’m being too self indulgent to be home with my kids during the “work” week.  Guilt that says I could be working and making money and contributing to my family in that way today.  Guilt that says “oh, I wish Tom were here because he would love this moment….but he’s at work….ooh, maybe I should be too…..”.

Yesterday it happened in the middle of three brilliant hours of PLAY.  It was a hot (HOT!) afternoon and even the idea of packing up to get to a beach felt like too much work.  So, instead, we blew up this big inflatable crocodile in our backyard that sprays water down the head and tail slides, where it settles in a fun pool at the bottom.  The kids went up and down those slides for an hour straight and then splashed about.  While Maggie was awake, I read in the shade and toddled around with her.  When she slept, I joined in the kid fun.  I went down the slide (and by the way, the reason there is a 100 pound weight limit on that crocodile is because when you are over 100 lbs, you go flying off the side of the slide and land on the grass).  I did cartwheels (in my bathing suit).  We ate popsicles.  We played tag.  We threw the frisbee around.  We ran around yelling, screaming, laughing, and giggling.

Basically, I let go and played.  For three hours straight.  And at some point I felt that twinge of guilt.  I think it was in the midst of trying to show Caleigh how to do a handstand (which failed epically, by the way).  The adult in me said “It’s Monday!  Get some work done!”.  But when I righted myself after falling over from the handstand to see Caleigh’s look of glee on her face, that guilt vanished.

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Quote from the book I’m currently reading, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  Although I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it long before this book so I’m not sure exactly who to give credit to.

One day, I am going to look back on these Mondays and be so grateful for the time I get to spend with my children.  I love what I do in my office.  I love the time I get to spend there.  Unlike most Canadian moms, I went back to doing what I love in the office six weeks after my kids were born (most Canadians moms take 12 months).  I don’t work full time but I do get this lovely balance between being at home and being at work.  It would be a lie if I didn’t say there are times at home when I wished I was at work.  It would also be a lie if I didn’t say there are times at work when I wished I was at home.  But 95% of the time, I am truly happy where I am at that moment in time.

And I hope that you can say the same.  If not, here’s a chart that might help.

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first goal

My amazing daughter, Caleigh, is six and a half years old. She has now played soccer for two years and before that took soccer “lessons” in the form of Playball (which I highly recommend to any parents looking to not only get some activity in their child’s lifestyle but also to learn the real skills of soccer).

Each week on the way to soccer we have recited the following:

“I’m an awesome soccer player! I’m going to play hard! I’m going to run fast! I’m going to pass well! I’m going to score a goal! I’m going to have fun!”

It’s become somewhat of a tradition, much like our bedtime routine.

For two years, Caleigh has wanted to score a goal. Two years of practice both on the field with her team and at home with us. Two years of manifesting the ball going into the net and then practicing her celebratory dance. (That dance is awesome. I don’t have video but imagine her hips shaking, fingers pointing into the air, and head bobbing side to side with a big goofy grin.)

Also, though, two years of no goals.

Which, let’s be honest, is also the situation for 85% of her teammates. Not many of these amazing girls have scored a goal. Watching six and seven year olds play soccer is great because they are no longer the beehive of kids chasing the ball aimlessly BUT strategy is still not a strong point. They basically like to kick it as hard as they can and hope it goes somewhere in the vicinity of a teammate or the net.

Tom and I have never put pressure on her to score a goal – our focus has always been fun. However I don’t know anyone who has played soccer without dreaming of making the perfect shot. Caleigh included.

Last night her scoreless streak ended. With just a couple of minutes left in the game, Caleigh had the opportunity to run with the ball. With two of the opposing team members on both sides of her, she stayed focused and bam – one final kick and in the ball went.

Big cheers from everyone on the sidelines. Tom and I high-fiving one another (yes, we are THOSE parents). Caleigh with a big kool-aid grin on her face. She’d done it!

Best part for me was on the way home, she piped up from the backseat “Mom? You know what? Now that I got a goal, I don’t think it will be hard to do it again!” I couldn’t agree more. I find that in life once I reach a goal, it’s easy to do so again AND set higher goals for the future.

Bend it like Beckham!

Bend it like Beckham!

Best part for Caleigh? A stop at the ice cream shop on the way home for a celebratory cone.