Summer, Montreal Style

12 Aug

I realize I haven’t written anything in over a month. I’ve been busy, real busy. Hanging out at my parents’ house, relaxing, enjoying the pace of life in North America in the summer, trying not to think about the end of the summer. Which is totally coming up. We go back to Israel in less than two weeks.

But, for a moment, let me tell you about my summer.

First of all, I flew by myself with my four children. Crazy? Insane? Perhaps. These kids are constantly surprising me. They chose fifteen hours to be good all at the same time. Seriously. What are the chances of that ever happening again? Sure there were moments. But there were no tantrums, no Mummy-losing-her-patience, not even any prolonged sourness. And no throwing up (that happened last year on the flight by myself, with three hours to go. The boy threw up all over me, the only one without an extra shirt stashed in the carry-on. Needless to say, I learned from that experience.). Of course, the next morning they were all up at 5am and couldn’t get along for five minutes. But, let’s hand it to the kids. They were awesome, they made me totally proud to be their mom.

The three older kids were registered for four weeks of day camp near my parents’ house. The Boy went back to the JCC camp that all three attended last year, which I knew was great. For the girls, I was looking for something different.  The JCC camp was excellent, but they don’t have a pool at the facility. They do swimming lessons twice a week at an indoor pool, and D#1 told me last year that her group was so big that they just played games. I am totally into my kids learning to swim well as early as possible, so I wanted a camp with a pool. Which led me to discover that the pool I grew up going to now has an onsite camp. Swimming lessons in the morning, swim team for those six and over , a program for the younger kids at the same time, and a free swim period in the afternoon. Right up my alley. They had a price for members, and another price for non-members. Turned out to be totally worth it to join the pool as well. The Boy got free swimming lessons four days a week before his camp started, and a bunch of times I picked him up (he ended an hour earlier than the girls) and took him and The Baby to swim while the girls finished camp and then we all hung out for a while in the pool.

As it turns out, the girls’ camp was not really what I would necessarily call a camp. Maybe a swimming camp? They did a lot of swimming. They played some games. It wasn’t like The Boy’s camp, with a weekly schedule of activities and lots of organization. It was pretty relaxed. I hated it for the first three days and thought I had made an enormous mistake.

Then Wednesday night happened, and D#1 had her first swim meet. On Monday, before camp started, she could do front crawl decently and a pretty rough estimate of back crawl. At the swim meet, after three days of what I decided to call Swimming Camp, she raced front crawl and back crawl. And I could not believe how much her back crawl had already improved. I started to feel better about the whole situation and decided it was okay for the girls to have a relaxed summer and get lots of swimming in. By the third swim meet, in week three of camp, D#2 got to swim in a race, even though her front crawl is pretty approximate, and D#1 raced the same front crawl, back crawl, plus the relay. D#1 will be 7 in November. The youngest age group is 8 & Under. One of her friends was turning 9 in two weeks. Most of the kids were 7 or 8. In front crawl she came second to the turning-9-in-two-weeks girl, and in back crawl she WON HER HEAT! And her relay won. And she had learned to DIVE off the starting block! Swimming Camp, I love you.

I loved watching D#2, so excited when she learned she would get to swim, and then seeing her in the water; 25m is pretty far for a 5yr old, and she conquered it. Her face when she got to the end and got her 1st place ribbon was priceless. She didn’t notice that she was the only one in the heat. (And we didn’t let D#1 tell her!)

I LOVED watching D#1 standing around in her suit and bathing cap, chatting with her friends while they waited to swim. They laughed and cheered for their friends and team mates. She gained so much confidence from this whole experience. I was so proud of this kid who is so much her own person in the world. I caught a glimpse of myself at her age, doing the exact same thing and just wanted to freeze the moment.

So camp ended up being a great experience for all three of the kids. I hung out with my parents and The Baby, and was able to morph into the total Olympics junkie that I become every four years and watch CTV, which was showing all the swimming, diving and gymnastics that I crave live, and then later NBC, which has much better commentary and has those athlete fluff pieces that I love and mock all at the same time. I had all the baby-sitting I could possibly dream of, since my father works at home and my mom tried really hard to do whatever she could for me.

We spent Shabbats with my Mother in Law, and had Friday night dinners together. Shabbat lunches/afternoons were spent, for the most part, with our best friends, and the kids had so much fun together.

I was also able to swim with a local Masters team for a month, a couple of times a week, and then on my own another couple of times a week. I got to swim a race in a Masters’ meet, which was fun. I swam a lot. Watching the Olympics motivates me. That 10km Open Water Marathon swim? The Canadian who won bronze had a time of one hour and fifty minutes! I swim about 5k in that time. In a pool. With walls to push off of every 25m. Anyway, I haven’t been totally lazy. But now I feel really slow.

2028 Olympics? D#1 will be 23, D#2 22, The Boy 19. Get them started now and they can all be in the Olympics in the same year. Swim, little ones, swim!

The Husband finally arrived on Wednesday. After a month of calling “Da-DA” on skype, and even to the picture of him hanging in my parents’ den, The Baby “ran” to him as soon as he walked in the door! D#2 ran to him when we went to pick  the girls up from camp. D#1 hung back and didn’t run, but she wanted to (I’ve got her number; she is so totally me when I was a kid), and The Boy was SO SO excited to see his Daddy. It was a little bittersweet for me. Of course, I totally missed him and felt so bad that he was in Israel, working, alone, while I was having all this relaxing, great family time with the kids and my parents. But I also knew that once he got here it meant that there were only two more weeks until we go back to Israel. Which we all know I don’t want to do.

Trying to be positive, we are going to plan to move back next June. Next week we will go visit the school we want our kids to attend, we’ll go back to Israel and get our things together and sell our house and leave in an organized fashion. I will try to enjoy these ten upcoming months with all our great friends. I will deal with the increasingly short school days. (I recently got an email from D#1’s school, telling me that the Ministry of Education has shortened each school day by 10 minutes, meaning that twice a week she will end at 12:45, three times a week at 1:30 and once a week at 11:50. Am I the only one to think those are really half-days?) And I will become somewhat of a taxi service, as I get my kids involved in numerous activities for all their free time!

In the meantime, tomorrow we will take some family pictures. My brother and sister-in-law are in town with their baby girl, and we will try to get some great family shots. The last pics that we took all together were for my dad’s 60th birthday, 4 years ago, when D#2 was only a few months old. Amazing how this family has changed in only a few years.

After the pictures, we’ll eat one last dinner with my bro and his family and then we’ll leave for a few days in a cabin in the middle of Vermont. On a lake, with some games and books and a little shopping at the local outlets.

My summer has been pretty much perfect.

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