One of our favorite past times this summer has been going to the Prairie Preschool Class at Buffalo River State Park. We follow it with a picnic and a beach day every Thursday. We missed a few in the beginning and weren't able to go this week due to rain, but we don't miss it if we can help it. This summer, we were able to go fishing (using pop cans, string, and hot dogs for bait, not necessarily successful or interesting to the girls who have fished with daddy the "real" way) and make homemade kites. We also got to walk out to the "buffalo rock" and learn about different kinds of bugs that live on top of the water. they read books about trees, flowers, leaves, and animals. They have show and tell and get to do crafts. It's just great.
I'm well aware that the girls will need other adults and influences in their lives who they can look up to and learn different perspectives. While I want them to love being outside, they won't necessarily develop a true love of it themselves without some outside help. This class has been so perfect in this regard. It's not long, so right when their attention starts to wander, we switch activities. Picnics are always fun. Water is fun. Sand is fun. Being outside, learning what is seasonally appropriate and enjoyable, and adapting to your surroundings help them to appreciate it in many different aspects. I've gotten to talk to the park ranger who teaches the class. She's kind and encouraging. The girls, Josie in particular, adore her. I hope we can continue to strengthen our relationships with her. We will be going back every summer until the girls are too old.
With Josie finally overcoming her fear of swimming while not touching the bottom (we all celebrated that one, it's never fun to panic or watch someone else panic) we have been able to utilize my sister's condo community pool. The girls wear their puddle jumpers and swim around like little fish. Amelia is happy to hang out with whoever is currently not in the water. Otherwise, she wants to be held (not in a floatie device though) and is not too crazy. It makes it easier. She is not afraid of the water, though. I can see her learning to swim much younger than her sisters since she's not afraid like they were and she wants to keep up. Wouldn't that be awesome? Water activity season is coming to an end. This year's summer season ended up being a pleasant surprise. I had mentally prepared myself for a tough time with Amelia, being that age where she wants to do all the big kid things but isn't able to or old enough. Instead, she participated when it was doable and happily stayed near me when it was not. She's always been well behaved and easily entertained when we get out of the house. Something about outside distractions and people to observe just keeps her focus and energy. She hasn't really held us back from many activities. What a blessing, right? I'm thankful for that.
The older girls mostly do well when we are not at home. I can usually count on an outing to brighten moods or at least provide a good distraction. I've noticed that their play is now different at parks. While they do still enjoy them, they are not necessarily entertained or enjoying them like they used to. They are ready to leave sooner and don't always jump right in with excitement. Actually, bringing them somewhere without obvious playground equipment can be more fun. Last summer, we visited parks and playgrounds in town at least twice a week. This summer, once every week or even every other week is enough.
Josie is riding her bike without training wheels as of late June. I knew she could do it with a little push from me (pun unintended) and as per her usual, she got it after a little frustration (tears, screaming, etc) and plenty of stubborn moments. Once she got it, she was off and riding without looking back. I shot myself in the foot a little, teaching her so young, because now she's always going at her one speed - fast - leaving us behind. It's hard for me to walk with the stroller if she's riding bike now because she's at the end of the block before I've left the driveway. She goes at a great speed if I am also riding bike, but we don't always do that. We certainly do it more, but not all the time. Walking can also be frustrating because Miss Audrey wants to ride her "Honkah bike" (balance bike) instead of riding in the stroller. She is doing great on this bike, enough so that I am fairly confident she'll also be training-wheels-free next summer. The problem is that the bike is tiny and just can't go super fast. There is no way I could jog behind her, so we have a bit of a time butting heads about the speed we should go.
We enjoyed Summer as much as we could. No regrets here. :)