Summer of Love

I guess it would be nice to let you know next time before I vanish. Okay, how about this? What if I promise to post once a week? If we set up some expectations, and deadlines, I think I can commit. Wednesdays are a great day. What if I promise to post on Wednesdays? Will that make everything okay between us again?

It’s not an excuse, but I’ve been busy. Travel, breaking up with my toxic landlady, moving, housewarming, teaching, finishing a novel, fundraising, hosting family, trying to enjoy hanging with my kids over the summer. You’ve been busy too. There’s no hard feelings here. In fact, why don’t you tell me what you’ve been up to in the comments?

Meanwhile, here’s my summer thus far, in photos:


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Four Ways to Maximize the Last Days of Summer

How can it be August already? I mean, actually, how? I feel like I was just packing up teacher gifts and bracing myself for summer vacation to begin, and now we’ve only got 30-ish days left before the kids are back in school and (gulp) my little one begins kindergarten. July was filled with incredible family time and epic birthday celebrations (I turned 40, more on that later!) and we’ve promised ourselves that we’d slow way down this month and focus on relaxing, being as lazy as we can get away with and spending time with our kids. Here are some ways to maximize the last days of summer:

four ways to maximize the last days of summer

1. Make a Wish List

The last weekend in July was the first we had free in over a month, so we spent some time as a family chatting about the things we’d like to do before the warm weather is done. This was a great way to connect and get a sense of our family’s needs.

Here’s some of the stuff we came up with, in case you need inspiration:

More gardening time when the heat lets up (we’ve had a drought here this year.)

A family trip to an amusement park

Sleeping outside in the tent

Visiting with cousins

Lazy meals cooked outside

Family swim time

A weekend in the big city

Visiting our in-laws

Reading books

Laying on a blanket in the park while the kids play

2. Make Some Plans

With a fairly open schedule, we’re lucky to be free and flexible when it comes to some of these plans. Our first step was to try to secure some dates for family visits. For the rest of the wish list, we’re staying open. The extreme heat doesn’t lend itself well to long days wandering around amusement parks or busy trips to the city, so we’re watching the weather forecast and trying to take advantage of more favorable weather.

3. Focus on the Feels

Sometimes the best way to make the most of your time is to tune in to the way you want to feel. A word that kept coming up in our family meeting was ‘spontaneous’. Another was ‘relaxed’. Here are some others to consider:








4. Plan to be Flexible

Above all else, don’t get stressed out about trying to get everything on your list done. It’s easy to get caught up once you set those goals, but remember these are the LAZY days of summer. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t knock out everything on your list. Carry some of these activities and ideas into the early fall months and use your weekend time. Cooler temperatures might actually make some of these activities more fun.

What’s left on your summer wish list? What are you most looking forward to for August?

Create Great Theatre With Kids

A couple of weeks ago, I finally bit the bullet and took a crash course in driver’s ed. I was in class every day from Monday through Thursday from 9:00 until 2:30. I wanted to leave the girls with something engaging and fun to do, so I made a list of what I called ‘Boredom Busters’. 

The activity that most appealed to Hannu and Aylu was creating a play. Hannu has been devouring the McEldery Greek Mythology book, so I had the girls select a story and create a play complete with props and costumes that they would stage for our close friends and family. They chose the story of Arachne, who is turned into a spider after challenging the goddess Athena to a weaving competition.

It turned out that the girls eventually felt a little overwhelmed about committing Hannah’s sophisticated adaptation to memory, so I spent a couple of hours with them and worked through the story. When I broke the story down into parts in a “what happens next” series of questions, both girls knew almost all of the lines. We decided I would read the part of the narrator, to help out Hannah who already had three roles to portray.

They seriously blew my mind and we had so much fun with this. All I did was jog their memory and suggest some very basic staging. The rest is all their steam and attention to detail, and they were so proud and excited to present their creation. I’ve included a link to the very simple video we shot, but like all stage shows the real magic was in watching the live performance.

Some tips for creating theatre with children:

  • Let them choose a story that they are inspired by and excited about. Stick with classic tales from mythology and folklore because they tend to be very simply written. Have them create a ‘script’ based on the story.
  • Keep a well-stocked dress up box for your kids and replenish frequently with thrift store finds. Think beyond commercial characters and try to find costumes for classic characters and archetypes. Sometimes the ‘ethnic clothing’ section of a thrift store can be a gold mine!
  • Don’t hold them to memorizing lines. Instead, help them remember the story arc and the key characters. If they can re-tell the story to you, then they can create a play that brings the story from the page.
  • Encourage them to play multiple characters by changing simple costume pieces. It’s great fun for kids to explore the ways different characters move and speak.
  • Create pride in their work by having them make hand made invitations that they can issue to friends and family. Turn the play into an event they can look forward to.
  • Help them rehearse by working with them on annunciation, volume, and simple staging. Resist the urge to over-direct them or turn into a rabid ‘stage mom’. Prompt them to consider how lines might be delivered, or how their characters might feel about what is happening.
  • Get involved by helping with props, costumes, set design, but don’t take over. You’ll likely be amazed by the scope of your kids’ imagination!
  • Document the event. Make sure you get video so you can play these when your kid wins their first Tony or Oscar.



Last night I was feeling a bit out of sorts, likely normal settling-in feelings, but I remarked that I felt like we were on the most boring vacation ever. I have the most wonderful sense of general relaxation here in the country, but also that feeling of unfamiliar territory that comes with vacationing, and we’ve only been able to do a lot of unpacking and laundry thus far – hence the boredom.

I finished setting up my room yesterday, except for hanging some art, and so I decided to take the kids on a little outing to explore some of the local hang outs. The weather threatened thunderstorms, so we chose the Dr. Huq Family Library, which is in a brand new compound that houses the Kiwanis Pool, and the whole thing is situated on the property of the Lester B. Pearson Park. Daddy had to be our chauffeur, but rather than drop us off, he decided to take advantage of the much faster Internet connection at the library and get some work done.

The facilities are beautiful, and built with sustainability in mind. You can check out the very clever specs here.
One thing I’ve really noticed in our few days of country life is how much friendlier people are than in the city. It’s very common for strangers to engage you in a conversation, especially when you have a very cute bunch of ice breakers. The girls each made a couple of friends and we’ve decided to take advantage of the pool with swimming lessons and swim memberships. It’s a great rainy-day refuge for all of us.


Ayla wanted to check out the playground, so she and Noodle and I went to explore while Hannah stayed indoors with Daddy and a book of Greek Mythology. We discovered an amazing splash pad outside that we will definitely visit next time, Ayla worked the playground like the best of schmoozers, and Noah considered the St. Catharine’s grass quality. I think Hannah was as taken with the mythology as Ayla was with the playground because on the trip home she regaled us with tales of Prometheus and Pandora, her eyes round with wonder. I love how much she loves reading and story telling. Ayla is following her lead too – she took home two books from the book sale pile at the library that she proudly pored through for the rest of the afternoon.


Daddy treated us to his delicious barbecue for dinner, marking the first official use of the grill gazebo. I’d say these photos convey just how delicious it was. He always grills to perfection, despite his fussing over the final product. How lucky am I that he takes such pride in his cooking?



So, settling into our new home will be just like a staycation in many ways. There’s so much to discover, it will easily eat up our summer, and I no longer feel like the girls need camp. It’s actually kind of exciting to look forward to so much time with them, and since I get bored as quickly as a child, it will be easy to keep things interesting.


Exploring the area with fun day trips, making the library our new hang out, hiking, grilling food outside, transforming our shaded shelter into a Moroccan paradise – there’s lots to do, and it’s going to be such a nice way to settle in!