Wonderings by child grower Annita Woz

babykittyfeetMy daughter brought this home from her school day…it is a privilege to see through her eyes.

I wonder if I will look a lot different or a little different when I grow up.

I wonder if I my sister will be an artist

I wonder if my brother will follow his dreams

I wonder if I will ever meet my pen pal in person

I wonder if I will learn how to be a director

I wonder if I will ever see kids in an orphanage

I wonder if I will adopt a hamster

I wonder if I will ever change my name to Madlyn

I wonder if I will ever see Carrie Underwood in person

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Summer Vacation or Not? by child grower Annita Woz.

3barefootballfeetSo I’m writing out the checks like they are going out of style. Summer piano lessons, summer swim lessons, summer tennis lessons, summer art class, summer drama club, summer soccer camp.  I’m justifying all this layout of cash by promising myself that I appreciate the opportunities that this town offers and that this is a great time to introduce the kids to things they can try and maybe learn to love for a lifetime.

Right?

Who am I kidding? This is summer vacation. Isn’t it? Who really gets the vacation if I’m still on a schedule and if I’m spending these glorious hot summer days, sweltering in some parking lot waiting to shuttle my kids to the next fun scheduled activity?

And who’s vacation is this anyway? My kids are checking the calendar, hovering between excitement and dread, anticipating that some friends they know will be there and dreading that the time spent on the tennis court will mostly teach them to love standing on hot asphalt at Noon on a humid summer day in Northern Wisconsin. Who am I kidding!?

For the last three years I have been really good about limiting this kind of scheduling. My kids hate mornings. They love to stay up late, run to the neighbor’s house for tag, come home and make s’mores on the perpetual bonfire and then leave the yard with flashlights to play some more.

They don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn and head to soccer camp.

And I don’t want to shuttle them there, half dressed, my hair a mess, clearly looking like I’m in need of coffee and thank goodness, able to slip into a pair of sandals so that I don’t have to wrestle through the drawers looking for matching socks for the drive to the neighborhood park for canoeing class.

I thought this was summer vacation!

This year, as usual, I have to force myself to stop and listen to the kids and stop scheduling some sanity time for myself by booking them into activities.

Yes, I admit, I THINK that I am getting time to myself by signing them up for things, but what I’m really getting is cranky kids and a lot of laundry and a need to buy convenience food and other bribery things to feed them while they ride to the next activity and refuel their little selves. And I get to keep track of the dirty towels, the cleats, the water bottle and the carpool schedule.

Living in a rural area instead of a subdivision has always had it’s drawbacks but this year, I’m getting the feeling that I have struck gold.

Behind us, well, along the path, over the fence, through the yard, around the neighbors newly planted pines, and across the back road lives a neighbor with a girl the same age as my daughter and a trampoline.  Saved!

And down the path, across the newly cut barbed wire fence, under the scrub tree, around the fire pit, and up the hill is another neighbor who has two boys one the same age as mine and one a bit older, and some legos, some makeshift swords and a mom who makes fresh cookies every morning.

Across the yard, over the fallen fence, down the path, around the vegetable garden and up past the above-ground pool is where the kids all have found each other. They are playing on swing sets, making up games, picking up sticks for weapons to use against imaginary enemies and taking time to run, jump, explore the little nature that has gone unclaimed by mowers and lawn tractors. 

I’ve got kids calling day and night to get together with mine. All they want is some cookies and crackers to take out to the fort they just built, and ok, sometimes they want a band aid or to refill the water gun, but mostly, they just want freedom to run and to be told to come home when it is dark.

I rip up the checks, throw the registration forms in the garbage, invite the cousins to come and stay for a week and yes, I admit, I keep the swim lessons and the drama camp on the schedule. But I’m thinking, this is going to be the best of summers, a real vacation. No more running, no more getting up early to drive somewhere to arrive at some time specific, perhaps, this will be a real summer vacation.

For this summer, my kids are going to play, for free, in the backyard.

They won’t be bored, right? Is this going to work? Should I start digging in the garbage can right now for those forms…? What are your kids doing for summer vacation?

by Child Grower- Annita Woz for EmpoweringParents Parent blog post May 12, 2009.

Red Tent Bookclub picks June-December 2009

redtentphotoshoppedphoto2009Read em, no weeping required, unless so moved.

  • June 4th at Karen’s The Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell (humor)
  • July 9th at Jessica’s To Kill a Mockingbird (the classic)
  • August 6th at Annita’s Hold Tight by Harlan Coben (mystery)
  • Sept. 10th at Robin’s The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
  • October 1st at Michelle’s Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
  • November 5th at Branda’s The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett
  • December 3rd at Barnes and Noble for 2010 book picks

If anyone has a list of the books this group has read over the years, I’d like to add it to my files. Thanks in advance!

No Gobbling up PacMan by child grower Annita Woz

jennysjellystonegreentoesWhen I go outside it smells like dirt, and mud, and worms.

The sun is shining. The birds are waking me up chit-chattering in the early hours. The bootcamp style workout fad has hit the moms in my suburb inspired them to get up at 5:30 and run and do push ups and act like it was fun.

But I knew the glorious weather of spring was all over when I looked out my kitchen window, and saw a neighbor mowing the lawn on the riding mower. Ugh.

I visibly sneer at her, could it really be time to cut the grass?

This is the start of keeping the dandelions down, the weekly, sometimes twice a week,  circling, circling smaller, mower and owner together,  tackling the grass.

We master those green blades for a few days at a time, carve out soccer fields and kickball areas, make paths to the bonfire pit and keep the nasty weeds away from the sidewalks and the front porch.

My husband loves to mow.  He finds it therapeutic, a good time to rehash ideas, brainstorm on problems, think about nothing at all sometimes except the drone of the mower and the smell of that grass spewing out of the chute.

We don’t rake, we don’t bag, we don’t collect the clippings. We let them sit and sometimes we joke about baling them, like Grandpa did on the hayfields- but of course, this is no farm. Long grass just happens sometimes here, it is just a neglected lawn, overlooked for other adventures like camping or skipped in order to go swimming many days in a row. We cannot call it switchgrass or turn it into energy to heat our bath water, but it sure takes up a lot of our energy.

I know moms who have mowed while kids are sleeping in the house, who have put babies in front packs or backpacks and followed behind the gasoline engines that sputter and cut nice lines into the yard, just like it should. 

I know dads who have mowed as a workout, who have mowed paths around yards for dogs and children to follow and I know a couple who mow their yards together, each on a machine, like a game of Pacman chasing each other and cutting the grass like some arcade game gone live. 

Letting the ghost catch them is not part of the plan.  But it happens.

Getting a ride on a machine that cuts the grass is a gift, a fun game, like a ride, but one that doesn’t need a three dollar ticket.

The traditional ride around the lawn before the work begins is great fun. Who can resist a ride ont he big machine with dad’s arm around your middle, getting the best view of the growing clover?

Then, one fine day, the little kid runs out on the lawn and chases mom on the rider, waving and yelling, asking for a ride.  Or maybe it is just to get the attention of the grown up,  who cannot hear them,  just to ask for a little help, “Can you get my frisbee off the roof?”

And then, mom turns sharply, or backs up, and the ghost gets the little pac man, and gobbles him up.  

Every year I see the confusion on my friends and neighbors faces when mine say, “no thanks” to the obligatory chug around the fence line.  It isn’t that we don’t trust other parents. It isn’t that we are the type of no-fun- kind of people that hate parenting or joyful freedom. 

But then, I have to admit,  mine aren’t allowed a ride on the back of a four wheeler unless they have a helmet, and then I get those looks like I am an overprotective nut job-well, that’s another story.

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