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Summer 2014 Day 3


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Summer 2014 Day 2


Some photos before bedtime:

Me with Ashley, Caitlin, Ethan and SeanMe and Ashley


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Another summer is here. We’ve had a very full school year with Ashley in 6th grade, Caitlin in 4th grade and Ethan and Sean in preschool for the first time. I was able to find a class in the local community center that they could both attend. Lots of people thinking they’re twins because of this but at 15 1/2 months apart it’s understandable 🙂

I have some personal goals this summer and I’ve decided that I need a little public accountability to achieve them. I want to have fun with the kids and I want to make sure that I am aware of the highlights of each day so that I don’t let the lowlights fool me into thinking that there was more lows than highs.

I’m also trying to lose weight. I’ve never been in this position before. Never been on a diet or worried about my weight. However, I turned forty last month (and love it!) and realized that I want to get back to my optimum weight. Ideally 126lbs but going for 130lbs by the end of the year. For the summer my goal is to get to 137lbs (you know the ideal pound a week for long term maintenance of the goal weight). I started an ab workout at the start of June and I’m loving it (that wasn’t the case at the start and I had to tweak it because of some back pain). My goal is to keep it up during the summer. Three days of ab workout followed by one rest day.

There are 68 days of Summer vacation this year (about 10 weeks). I hope putting this together each day will help me keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. Think: Fun and Fit!

So here we go. My first Summer Report. Wish me luck!!!

Summer 2014 Day 1





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Tomorrow is the last day of school. Another summer is almost here. Ashley graduates from elementary school tomorrow, so this is a milestone summer for her. Next stop middle school.

I’ve spent the last couple of months investing a lot of time and energy into putting together our elementary school’s yearbook and working with James on the school’s end of year slideshow. Thousands of photographs. It’s almost done and today, as I finish my role in the slideshow, I found myself thinking about enjoying a simple summer with family and friends. Seeing all the photos of our school community reminds me that we live in a wonderful neighborhood. We are not going to fill up our summer with summer camps or music lessons. We will have lazy days, flexibility, and fun. We will enjoy our neighborhood and our community. And yes, I include myself in that too!

Keep living things alive and happy-feed and water family and plants. Play with husband, children and friends. Read to myself and the children.

Maintain a comfortable home-keep fridge, freezer, food pantry and clothes and linen closets stocked.  Pick up books, toys and clothes. Garden.

Play with our photo archive-delete the dross and create memories (frames, albums, slideshows).

Okay, that’s my simple plan. I’m all set. Here comes the summer!!!

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check mark    check mark check mark

As I find myself daydreaming about things I would like to be doing, but have not yet been able to act upon, I am finding it helpful to shift my thoughts to things that are currently happening and that are working well. My daydreaming leaves me restless. My reflection on family routines that are working relaxes me.

We are very fortunate here that James’s job allows for him to be with us in the morning for breakfast and back in the evening for dinner. While the changes in roles and duties that his presence has brought about has taken a little time to adjust to, we seem finally to be entering a flow.

Weekday Mornings Routine

Alarm goes off. 


  • Wakes girls
  • Frees the boys 🙂 (They have a child safety handle on their doorknob inside the bedroom  to prevent Ethan wandering around without supervision during the bedtime hours. Sean is still in a crib.)
  • Showers and dresses
  • Takes breakfast requests (within his weekday breakfast limits)
  • Heads downstairs to make breakfasts and his lunch

While I:

  • Nurse Sean
  • Read a story to both boys as I nurse
  • Say good morning to, and sometimes with, Ashley and Caitlin
  • Change the boys nappies/pull-ups
  • Take Ethan to the bathroom
  • Send boys downstairs
  • Have a shower
  • Start a laundry load, strip beds or fold some laundry depending on what day it is and what tasks  need doing.

We eat breakfast.


  • Takes girls to school, nearly always accompanied by Sean and sometimes by Ethan (who seems to be more of a homebody at this hour)

While I:

  • Finish my tea
  • Assess what needs to get done during the day and create a check list.

James returns from school. The boys and I say goodbye as James cycles off to work.

My day with the boys at home begins.

Evening Routine

  • The girls do homework.
  • I cook dinner or put it together from having prepared it earlier in the day.
  • James returns home from work.
  • We eat dinner together.
  • James and I alternate taking the boys to bed and cleaning the kitchen after dinner/supervising the girls’ chores.
  • Ideally, there is then time after the boys bedtime and chores for James and I to enjoy time with the girls before their bedtime (sometimes dallying over homework or chores means these tasks need to be completed in the time before they go to bed :()

As I write this time I can see that we really do have a great deal of rhythm to our days as a family. These routines don’t always run smoothly but they tick along most of the time. Homework and chores are still a work in progress with the girls, but we are starting to have some fun evenings before their bedtime playing Yahtzee or Scategories or reading in the living room together. Some evenings, if the boys have had a very late nap, they join us in the living room. They both enjoyed playing “Pagliahtzee” with me and James one evening recently. (Ethan came up with the names. He has confused Pagliacci Pizza and Yahtzee and run them together. Sean copies Ethan a lot, so now they both call the game “Pagliahtzee” :))

It really helps settle my mind to focus on what is working around here. Our morning and evening routines are working well and act like anchors, giving me a sense of place and purpose with my family. As I reflect I take a deep breath and exhale with a sigh. Life is Good!

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Ethan and Sean love baking day. I usually give them a bowl of flour and some spoons to play with beside me on the counter. They inevitably gather some cars and drive them through the flour and Ethan likes to pretend it’s snow 🙂

After our very successful experience with the sensory box with rice last month I decided to use the box again. Only this time, in honor of our first baking day of Autumn, we used flour. (I poured the rice and little toys into a storage container so that we can easily reuse it when we want.)

This time I added some of my plastic measuring cups and spoons, ones I didn’t need for the recipes I was making 🙂

I had been gathering a little collection of scoops from things like detergent and large bags of baking soda.  I have also been hanging onto some empty play-doh containers in various sizes and some little plastic applesauce cups thinking I would find a use for them sometime (’cause containers are the kind of thing I “hoard” :)). I popped those into the container too. The boys loved using them.

Just like with the sensory box with rice Ethan ran off to get his little Lightning McQueen and Mater to play with in the “snow”. He had a lot of fun pretending that Lightning McQueen was stuck and Mater had to pull him free (Mater is a tow truck and McQueen a racecar).

Again I placed tha blanket under the container. This was the real test of the box. My original idea was that this would be an indoor activity for a rainy day, but our initial test drive using the rice was on a sunny day on our balcony. Well, inevitably some flour did get on the blanket, but when we were all done I was able to pour most of it back in the container. Then I shook the blanket out on the back deck and clean up was done.

The boys were occupied for about an hour while I baked. I am loving this sensory box as much as the boys. Though obviously for different reasons 😉

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Thanks to Joe over at Simply Being Mum I was inspired to focus on reading this summer for myself. I created some bucket lists for the family for the summer and facilitated their summer reading by attending the library every Wednesday for story time and book borrowing. We enjoyed visits to the book shop, I read to the boys endlessly and even read one book out loud to the girls (these days they are more interested in reading their own books in the evening than having James or I read to them). Reading Joe’s summer schedule post at the start of the summer gave me the push I needed to make time for my reading too. It worked!


Francesca’s Kitchen

Villa Mirabella

I discovered a new author, Peter Pezzelli, whose books I am enjoying. I like Francesca’s Kitchen the best of the two and both were light feel good summer reads.


A Year in Provence

On Rue Tatin

When summer rolls around I find myself wanting to read travel biographies. This summer I decided to reread two of my favorites, both set in France. One related to Normandy where I lived one summer as a teenager, the other was set in Provence an area I’ve longed to visit.


Full House

Star Sullivan

Last month, while researching whether there were any new books out from some of my favorite authors I spotted that Maeve Binchy wrote two novellas that I hadn’t read. So I ordered them, thrilled that there was still some of her work to enjoy. Tragically, I learned of her death just before my newly ordered books arrived from Europe. I read them feeling sad that one of my favorite authors and fellow country woman was no longer in the world. A new novel will be published post-humously in October and then there will be no more. The sad passing of a lovely lady with a wonderful talent. What I loved the most about her books were her characters. She had an amazing ability to create people who stay with me long after I finish one of her books. They seem like real people, resembling people I knew, or could expect to bump into, in Ireland.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

I never read this series and have wanted to read it aloud to my children. I had an opportunity in August to read this out loud as the girls while they were helping my friend Laura by punching out some appliques that will be used for her Glittersweet bags. Even Ethan at 3 years old really enjoyed the book and would ask me afterwards to read to him from “the wardrobe book”. Very sweet.

Simplicity Parenting

I reread this excellent parenting book this summer. I’d first encountered it at the start of the year. It continues to inspire the efforts I have been making to ensure that our family life is as simple as we can make it, without lots of stuff or activities complicating our home life and lots of down time to enjoy together.

I am now contemplating what I might read for the rest of the year. I’m particularly looking forward to getting back to the Martin Beck series that I started reading earlier this year. I stopped because they weren;t the kind of books I felt like reading over the summer. I have some books on the go at the moment and a nice pile of unreads to choose from. Oh, the excitement of it all. I’m consistently reading again!

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