Soccer Sunday

One very cool thing for kids here in the Lehigh Valley is the Greater Bethlehem Soccer League (GBSL). The cost is nominal compared to many programs, and it’s all-volunteer. It’s a short season, beginning of September to beginning of November, and they only meet once a week: practice, then game, then go home.

We did this for a few years with our son; my husband even coached.

Our daughter’s been asking about soccer for a while because at her daycare, they would pass out flyers for Soccer Shots, which is pricier. So this year, we signed her up for GBSL. Yesterday was her first day, and she loved it.

Her team decided their name is the Red Dragons. They practice, they played, they scored (and the other team accidentally scored for them), and they more-or-less completely ignored things like positions and boundaries. So a great time.

One of her friends is also doing soccer and was playing on the field next to us. It’ll be a few weeks before they have to play each other.

I learned that she’s not the sort to jump to conclusions. She told me she thought one of her teammates is in her class at school. “He has the same name, he has the same color eyes, and he looks the same. And he even knows my name.”

Her brother complained that he had to go, even though he was told he could take a book to read. I told him she had to go to his games when he was in soccer; he didn’t think that was a fair comparison as that was in her baby-to-toddler years. He survived sitting outside in the nice weather and reading his book.

Me, I forgot that I’d be sitting in the sun for two hours. My shoulders are on the pink side today. Yes, I will remember sunscreen next week.

All in all, a good start to the week.

Today’s parenting adventure

The girl starts first grade on Monday. All summer long, she’s been wearing her old clothes, but the school district (reasonably enough) frowns on hot pants and miniskirts. The rule is “fingertip-length,” which I didn’t understand at first (her fingers are only a few inches long, after all) but have learned means when her hands hang at her sides, there has to be cloth down at least as far as her fingertips.

This meant an afternoon of shopping. Continue reading

August at last!

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone who saw my post at the end of May on having the kids home for the summer, but I’m really ready for them to go back to school. Fortunately, that’s just two and a half weeks now!

In many ways, the summer’s been easier than I thought it would be, although that probably has a lot to do with being willing to use electronic babysitters. Yes, my kids have spent an inordinate amount of time on the Xbox, the laptop, and my iPad — playing games, watching movies, and mostly staying out of my hair so I could still work and write. (I’ve even finished and sent out a couple of new stories this summer.) Which isn’t to say I didn’t do things with the kids. Library every week. One memorable trip to a playground (It didn’t end well). A trip to a different park. A trip to the museum.

I’ve made sure the kids are reading (okay, that’s not exactly hard, although my son is complaining that he doesn’t need any more recommendations of books to read now, Mom, thank you) and practicing their math (the boy has his summer algebra packet; I’ve had to print out addition, subtraction, and time worksheets for the girl). And the boy’s started up band camp, too, which takes him out of the house for a couple of hours every morning.

On the other hand, when the kids are both downstairs for any length of time, the squabbling starts. And when the boy has his best friend over, they tend to chatter a lot, which rather distracts me from what I’m trying to get done. And every now and then, we get that age-old plaint of children everywhere — “I’m bored!” (Although my son has learned to follow this up very quickly with, “No, Mom, I’m not asking for suggestions.”)

I’m probably the only one of us who’s eager for this year to start. My son’s still nervous about being a teen, and being in 8th grade weirds him out. My daughter? Well, she went to the same school for kindergarten that she did for preschool, so now that she’s going into first grade, she’s switching schools to a larger place with more kids, most of whom she won’t know. She’s nervous. Last night, in fact, she was telling me she was scared about kindergarten even though it was still the same school and she knew most everyone. So this? Yeah, big step for her.

Which doesn’t change the fact that I’m counting down to August 25.

For your viewing pleasure

A few weeks back, I posted the video for my daughter’s favorite song. This is my son’s. Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video. WordPress app plus YouTube on iPad means to me, it looked like I was just posting a link. The wonders of technology. 😛

School’s out!

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The kids, I think, enjoyed their last day of school — the girl went on a trip to the zoo, and the boy spent half the day outside at recess (kickball, monkey in the middle — which I learned as “keep away,” and hanging out and talking). Then we went out for ice cream at The Cup, stopped by a comics and gaming shop we didn’t know was right there, and visited the library. And to cap it all off, bedtimes were so relaxed tonight that the girl didn’t head to bed until after 9 (and she said she’d tuck herself in, say prayers, and sing her lullaby). Not a bad start to the summer.

So soon, so soon

Next week — next Friday, to be precise — is my kids’ last day of school for the year. The last day would’ve been Wednesday, but we had all those snow days, and even giving up the in-service days wasn’t enough. I’ve already laid down some ground rules — I get the computer from 9 to 4, even if they don’t think I’m working; they have to play outside for set least an hour a day; if I have to break up any arguments, they’re going to their rooms — that sort of thing.

It’s going to be a bit of a transition for us. The girl’s been in daycare since before she was 2, and she stayed there for kindergarten. This will be the longest stretch she’s been at home all day, every day. If I didn’t have to work, that would be fine, but especially younger children like time and attention. I have promised them an outing a week to the library, a playground, or the pool. (Pool’s probably going to be the least frequent because unlike the others, it costs money. That’s okay; we have a sprinkler the kids can play in — and no water restrictions.)

I think one of the hardest parts may be altering my morning routine. I’ve just settled into a good one, where after everyone is out the door, I have time to relax, eat breakfast, write my morning pages, read a bit, and enjoy the silence. I might still get to do most of that, but I can guarantee the next three months won’t have a lot of silence.

I’ll probably post in late June or early July on how the routine’s shaping up with the kids around. One thing’s for sure: they’ll be doing a lot of reading!

A busy April day

How’d we get more than two-thirds of the way through April already? Outside, it still looks like late March — forsythia and weeping cherries, magnolia blooms drifting in the wind, but not even a hint of an azalea blooming yet — not even the purple ones down the block that always bloom weeks before our magenta ones flower. The dogwood buds are just starting to lighten up, like they might be thinking of opening, but it’s clear they won’t be blooming before May. Perhaps this year I’ll remember to do a day-by-day shoot of the blooming in progress. (I tend to start and then get distracted about three days in.)

No new pictures yet, though, as all those blooming things are in other people’s yards, and I can’t very well shoot a picture while I’m driving down the street!

The freelance work’s going okay at the moment — I did get an ongoing copyediting gig where I work on journal articles each week, according to how much time I have available. Payment terms aren’t the best; they pay net 60, so I haven’t actually seen any of the income yet. On the plus side, it should be nice and steady. I’m also doing a proofreading job (a book on the Ottoman Empire) for a new client I marketed to earlier this year, and I have a proofreading test I need to finish up for another prospective client.

Writing is mixed, as usual. I have lots of great ideas for deepening projects I’m working on, and I’m making progress on different things, but I’m still working on that making regular time for the writing when the paying work is going well. Currently working on writing a cozy mystery novel (The Corn Maze Murders), an SF novel (working title: Neptune Station), and a fantasy short story (“Ice”); planning another mystery series and an SF novel series; and trying to make time to edit a novelette and a novella that I want to start submitting. Oh! And I have another drabble publication coming up this Friday on SpeckLit.

Family’s busy, too. Daughter’s got dance class, a simple one at the community center that does both ballet and tap. Each Wednesday as it gets to be time to leave, she says she doesn’t want to do it any more — and then she changes her mind when she actually gets to class. (Also, I can’t believe in just about six weeks, she’ll be done with kindergarten!)

The boy’s still playing trumpet in band. Spring concert’s tonight, which means I’m encouraging everyone to eat now. (While I sit at the computer typing, yes.) Should be good.

So that’s life here — busy, well-rounded, fulfilling, and (as always) crazy-making. What’s keeping you busy these days?

Small gratitude

A couple of years ago, I posted every Monday about things I’m grateful for. I might get back to that.

Today, I was starting to prep dinner when my daughter called me to come see something in the hall. I patted her on the head, and she asked, “Are we having salad and croutons for dinner?”

Turns out, she recognized the smell of green leaf lettuce on my hands.

She likes salad; this is one of her favorite dinners. I think it’s mostly the croutons and dressing (blue cheese for her) she likes, but she eats it all.

My son likes it, too, and likes all of it — lettuce, chicken breast meat, croutons, and dressing (he prefers creamy garlic Caesar).

I’m grateful it’s a healthy meal that everyone likes. And that my daughter can recognize the smell of lettuce.

Parades and plotting

Today was the Bethlehem Halloween parade. My son marched in the parade, and my husband drove the support van for the band. Logistically, this required that my husband drop our daughter and me off downtown to amuse ourselves until the parade started.

On the way downtown, the girl was asking how Cinderella’s real mom died, and then how her dad died. I told her the story doesn’t say but that I could pretty easily write a story where the stepmother poisoned everyone — except not Cinderella because the stepmother liked having a servant. (The girl is now referring to this story as basic fact — “in your story.” I guess this means I should start outlining it.)

Then we got to downtown, where as I said, we had to amuse ourselves. Given that the Moravian Book Shop (the world’s oldest bookstore) is there, this was not hard. We looked at books, ate lunch at the cafe, and bought her a small coloring book to amuse her while we waited outside.

I also bought myself an aspirational pin:

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Then we went out and found a tiny unclaimed wedge of sidewalk in front of a pair of parking meters, and the girl settled in to color her ballerinas. I pulled out a notebook and pen and started writing about the discovery of a dead body at a parade. I’m sure it’s just as well that the people around me didn’t know I was sizing them up as potential victims and suspects.

All in all, not a bad afternoon. Few hours of fun with my daughter, a couple of new story ideas, and a pin to remind me of one of my down-the-road goals.

How’s your Sunday afternoon been?