Summer Wrap-Up

A few years back, I read this great blog post that suggested people do a holiday wrap-up in which they record what worked for the season, what didn’t work for the season, and any notes to remember for next year.  You’re supposed to slip this note in your stockings so it’s there when you unpack the next year and you can make the appropriate adjustments. Genius! I wish I could remember where I read this brilliant idea!

As we’ve come to the end of this summer, I’ve realized the same thing would be helpful for me about the summer season.  I’d love to not make the same mistakes next year that I made this year.  It seems like most of my Facebook feed is filled with kids who are back to school, and although Gabe hasn’t started yet, these last few days of summer seem like a good time to reflect.  So here we go…what worked and what didn’t.

Worked

IMG_6158e

Traveling with Tahd || we don’t typically travel with Tahd during the school year because, well, school.  When the opportunity presents itself in summer, sometimes it has felt like an overwhelming proposition.  But this year, it worked well for us, even though one of the trips was quite extended.  I want to remember that it’s worth the effort to visit new places and be together as a family.

suite

Renting a hotel suite || God bless Homewood Suites and the like! I’m pretty sure they are the only reason our travel worked well.  With such a big age gap between kids, we really benefit from having that second room so we can split up the asleep from the awake.  We didn’t have suites during our extended trip last summer, and the difference between the two was dramatic.

Planning playdates for Gabe || He needs these for sure.  Although I’m thinking we’ve aged out of the term “playdate” as far as he’s concerned.  We scheduled a few this summer, and I need to do more next summer.  He gets understandably bored with no one around who understands his preteen boy humor.

1024889137597915173_35767951

Air conditioning || We usually try to keep our a/c off as much as possible, and living in the upper midwest, you’d think this would be a winning game.  The problem for me is the humidity.  When I’m humid, I’m C-R-A-N-K-Y.  Super.  And although we don’t tend to get super hot, we definitely do get humidity, especially living so close to Lake Michigan.

When we went to Memphis, the heat and humidity were crazy – 105-110 degrees most days! But I noticed I wasn’t the least bit cranky.  And that’s when I realized it was because the hot, sticky feeling was only temporary – I might be outside for an hour or two with the kids and sweat buckets, but it wouldn’t be long before we’d be back into an air-conditioned space.  When we got home from our trip, I decided that avoiding my crankiness was worth the extra expense, and we’ve been more generous with our a/c since then.  It has made for a much happier end-of-summer!

running

Running || I wasn’t sure how I’d get back to running in the summer. It’s hard to run with two little people in a stroller and then have Gabe on his bike. I figured the littles would cry and scream a lot and/or Gabe would get irritated that I couldn’t keep up with him.  Instead, it’s been pretty good! I haven’t run as frequently as I would have liked, but when I do run it goes really well.  I mean, the kids do really well.  I’m as slow as molasses! 😉  But out there…

Screen time limits || Gabe would probably disagree, but in the middle of July, we realized we’d become too dependent on screens and we needed a little detox.  So we unplugged the tv and cut Gabe back on video game time and hoped for the best. It went shockingly well.  I’m still a little surprised!  We’ve fallen off the wagon a bit during this last week, but it was definitely worth the trouble to recalibrate and reset.

IMG_6198

Loads of reading || I’ve wound up reading quite a few books this summer, and this makes me very happy.  I squeezed it in while road-tripping (as the passenger, naturally…), while putting Jude down to sleep, while the kids play outside and I sit nearby on a blanket…I didn’t have vast, unending stretches of time to curl up with a good book or sixteen, but I was able to make headway into several books I’ve been really eager to start.  That’s progress!

Didn’t Work

Going to the movies || I took the kids to the movies several times this summer.  Maybe it won’t be so bad by next summer, but it mostly made me anxious and frantic. One would be watching, one would be talking, and the third would be running.  Do you know how hard it is to chase a child quietly in a movie theatre while you shush another and basically leave the last one unattended in a dark room full of strangers?  Gah! We only went to kid-friendly matinees, but it still stressed me out.

beachday1

Skipping the beach || The movies having been such a horrifying experience, I knew I didn’t dare brave the beach alone with one fledgling swimmer and two nonswimmers.  But now that it’s the end of August, I’m sad we didn’t find a way to go more often.  If it’s still as chaotic with them next year, I need to prioritize going in evenings or on weekends when Tahd can go, too.

shake

Being off antidepressants || More to come on this another time, hopefully, but the short version is I think I still need them. My anxiety has been through the roof, which has colored much of my summer.

Bedtimes || This is probably not a summer thing, but it felt like it because all of our schedules were more loosey-goosey all summer. We wind up doing some sort of bedtime routine with someone for two hours most nights, frequently more. It is just too much. We need to make some adjustments.

IMG_5773

Not writing on Wednesdays || I have this one project I’ve been working on for eons for my other site.  I was sure it was going to be a quick little project and I’d release it into the wild a few weeks after I started.  Instead…a year later…I’m still working.  And I didn’t have time to do much regular blogging, either. These make my soul sad.  I don’t know what’s going on in my head until I start writing things down.

IMG_5891

Planning daytime activities || at the beginning of the summer I had grand plans of activities I wanted to incorporate into our weeks – lots of artsy things and some specific targeted practice with table manners.  We did a little bit of this at the beginning of summer, but not nearly what I’d hoped to do.  I’m not sure if I should try again or should work on letting go of the expectation/desire.

Staying up too late || I have a hard time balancing bedtimes with the fact that I work late several nights of the week, but I need to do a better job at getting my rest. I felt like a zombie so many days. Thank goodness for coffee! I don’t know how I survived my first 37 years without it!

Not keeping Gabe busy enough || He always wants to stay home and do whatever he wants, but this summer I realized how much he really needs structure in order to function well. We went through stages with a lot of conflict because he was understandably bored.  Next year, I need to insist on a few summer day camp-type experiences. I’m sure we can find some fun options for him.

What did you do this summer that worked well or not?

Whew…What I Learned in July

You know how you go on “vacation” and think, Sure! I’ll blog every day!  And then you go on vacation and don’t blog at all because you’re holed up in a hotel room trying to do naps and sleeps and meals and pools and do all the fun things? And, of course, because you’re gone FOR AN ETERNITY you still have to do things like grocery shopping and laundry and then you’re in the car for 40 hours (no joke) and you just don’t even really think about the fact that blogs or computers exist, really?

Yeah, that totally didn’t happen to me…

Moving right along, how is it that July is over?  I mean, let’s face it.  I’m pretty sure it’s about the 27th of May right about now.  I have lost two entire months of my life, and I don’t know how.

BUT I did learn things this month.  Several things being actual real-life learning experiences (as opposed to learning something by reading an article online, which I enjoy very much, especially since this month’s learning experiences were somewhat traumatic…)

Linking up with Emily (who has a new book coming out later this month!) at Chatting at the Sky.  Here goes…

1.  I learned that drowning really is silent.  I mentioned this in my last post, but it bears repeating.  Isla jumped in sans flotation device, and we heard nary a splash nor scream.  Both Tahd and I were in the pool and had turned to speak to Gabe for a moment, and in a second she sneaked in that one little jump that could have ended up much, much worse.  Kids and water have always been a nerve-wracking combination to me, but I think we got a bit used to Gabe, who is cautious and not a risk-taker.  He went many years refusing to jump at all, even if we caught him! It is hard to adjust and anticipate all the ways in which the younger two will be different.  In the area of safety, Gabe definitely made things easy on us!

staples

 

2.  I learned that scalp wounds do not typically get stitches – they get staples.  Isla strikes again, this time seeming to decide she could fly, only to realize (after a short leap and a big bang) that she can’t.  The good news is that one could have been a lot worse, too, but wasn’t.  She had no concussion and no skull fractures and was more brave and compliant than I imagined possible.  Staples come out later this week.

3.  I learned that to make a family trip successful, we need to get hotel suites, not hotel rooms.  We need one room for sleepers and one room for the awake people. Seriously – praise the good Lord that there are hotels like this, because after a 17-day trip, I would have lost my mind.  One room was workable when there were just three of us.  I think it would still be workable with 5 if the younger 3 were close in age and had similar sleep/wake patterns.  But 5 people with different sleep/energy patterns don’t mesh well in one room for days on end, especially when you throw in sibling squabbles.  Lucky for us, the suite was the same price as a single room, so it all worked out in the end.

nashvilleathens

4.  I learned that Nashville is also called the Athens of the South.  Apparently it was a super-educated, super-cultured, and super sophisticated city when it earned its nickname in the 1800s.  We visited for the first time in July and loved it! I expect we’ll be back.  Especially since my sister and her family just moved to the area. 😉

5.  The cause of addiction – substance, behavioral, or otherwise – may really be caused more by loneliness and disconnection than anything else.  The implications of this blow my mind.

gutbacteria

6.  The bacteria in my gut might explain my mood.  And I might be able to effect change to the status of my mental and emotional health by changing my gut biome. The implications of this one blew my mind, too.  I fell down a deep Google rabbit hole for quite some time.

I’m really hoping my learning in August takes on a more gentle form…What did you learn this month?

Can’t Even

1024889137597915173_35767951

I hope you read this article about the phrase “can’t even,” because there is really no other appropriate way to refer to this week other than saying I can’t even.  I just can’t.

We’ve been on the road, along for the ride while Tahd teaches some classes. Travel is its own beast.  I love it, but it is s.o. m.u.c.h. work.  It’s been super good and then super can’t even.  Like, we visited two new states – Arkansas and Mississippi.  Not even just a drive-through – ate dinner in one and went to a playground in the other.  Legit.  And then, eighteen hours in the car, and probably eighteen more to go.  Can’t even.

1025591067307549022_35767951

And then there’s the food.  Oh my gosh…Memphis.  I NEED MORE BARBECUE, and I don’t even really like meat. As in, I purposefully ordered pork, which I hate, because it smelled so good. And I ate the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my entire life. I can die now, and I didn’t even know I needed to eat excellent Mexican food before I died. Super crazy amazing.

And then Isla almost drowned.  Not even joking. She wanted to try to swim without her flotation device.  She can’t unless we hold her up, but she thinks she can, which is the problem.  So we were holding her and she was getting out of the pool and jumping in while we caught her.  Things were wrapping up and Gabe was super angry he didn’t get to play a particular game, which turned into a giant family argument in front of everyone else at the pool which was totally not awkward at all.  Meanwhile, Isla got tired of waiting for us and jumped in behind our backs without anyone noticing.  Thankfully, it dawned on Tahd that he didn’t see Isla, and we both turned around just in time to see her sweet little face, eyes opened and filled with panic, just below the surface.

Note: when they say drowning is actually a quiet thing, they’re not kidding.  There was no flailing, screaming, or bobbing.  She was completely silent and not one person in the pool was alarmed.  But had Tahd not seen her, it would not have been good.  So.  On that note, can’t even.

As well on that note, swimming lessons ASAP.

1023520757099929815_35767951

And equally can’t even (and also related to the pool, but a different day), Jude slipped on the pool deck and smacked the back of his head. It swelled a bit and looked red, but he seemed generally fine and I thought nothing of it.  In fact, the next day, I had forgotten it happened.  When he woke up, though, he was punk and laid draped across my legs.  Then he mournfully wailed while I showered, and at breakfast, he threw up every last thing he had eaten.  Which was a lot.  Vomit at a hotel is always a can’t even.

Then we went back up to the room to clean up, and he fell asleep at a non-nap time, and that’s when I realized, um…this is abnormal.  Can anyone say concussion? I called Tahd and we did a little checking into things, and in the end we decided that even though he might have had one, unless it was a bad one the hospital wouldn’t do anything for it, so we’d just keep an eye on him.  He had a bit of a punk day, but the throwing up was the worst of it and he’s back to normal now. Except I’m running around like a mad woman trying to prevent further head trauma.  You know, can’t even.

1025105998574920257_35767951

Overall, I really liked Memphis.  Even pushing seventy pounds of children-in-stroller uphill both ways in 95 degree heat.  As well as playing in crazy unshaded parks with my children.  Which, side note, resulted in a group of young girls asking Gabe if he was at the park with his grandma…

If you couldn’t guess, can’t even.

I’d totally visit again.  Which is super good because we’re going back today.  But I probably need to go on a diet and run a lot, because the eating.  Nom.

Other pictures to follow after I finally download them off the camera. I think there are 500.  Can’t even.

To-Do Lists

I was writing last week (over here!) about being overwhelmed – how it feels like there’s way more to do  in what feels like ever shortening amounts of time.  Tahd and I have been talking about this off and on for a few months now, both of us agreeing that we’re getting something wrong about life. I certainly don’t mean to imply that we’re living an awful life; in fact, our life is really, really good.  Hashtag blessed and all, you know?  But we’ve both said we feel like we’re drowning, and that doesn’t seem to be a particularly reasonable or effective long term life strategy. Hence the sense that we must be getting something wrong.  We’re trying to do too much and we recognize that, but we don’t know what or how to eliminate.

I was super lucky ducky to have some solo time away in Houston this past weekend.  I met up with a few girlfriends for a little while and spent the rest of my time writing, reading, and sleeping.  Ah!  I slept until 9AM both Friday and Saturday nights, but this morning I woke up feeling well rested after not quite 8 hours.  Gives me hope that someday I’ll be able to live my life as rested person once again.

Last night over Cracker Barrel’s Country Vegetable platter and a few lonely tears, a question hit me.

What do you KNOW God wants you to do?

Hm…this intrigued me.  My mind meandered over my swollen to-do list, which I’d even brought with me on this getaway.  (Why???) It’s filled with things for my kids, issues related to banking/bills/finances, house projects, appointments to make, people to email, creative endeavors to pursue, errands to run–the usual stuff, right?  None of it’s bad.  Little of it is truly urgent.  Some of it’s fun.

When I got back to the hotel, I sat down in front of a blank screen to make my list.  These are the things I know that I know that I know I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life:

cultivate my relationship with God || be a good wife and mom || take care of my health || steward my finances so I can be generous || write honestly and to encourage || worship with other people || live in and cultivate community || help less fortunate || do something creative to nurture my 

 

 

 

There might be other things God wants me to do, but these were the major and most obvious ones.  When I was done, I made a different list – the things I currently do that don’t make that list.  Here those are:

 

 

 

manage or acquire more stuff || keep a perfect house || get or stay skinny || read all the books || fix up my house || homeschool my kids || build a platform || play piano at church || keep up online || photography || volunteer at MOPS or another women’s group || scrapbook || travel || work at my current job || have big holidays || learn about and implement new things like oils || cook somewhat involved, varied meals

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think things on the second list are inherently bad.  I know I’m not giving up some of them anytime soon.  It was more the very clear realization that they’re trades, that I can’t do everything on both lists, and if I pick some things off the second list, I can’t pick other things.

This whole process has been very insightful for me and I’ve been mulling it over since I’ve come home.  I’m not sure this exercise is going to lead to drastic observable changes in the way I lead my life, but I did sense an internal shift as I made these two lists, and I’m not sure yet what it means.

I do know I need to somehow make this visible in my day-to-day life.  Already, I’ve been tripping over some of the things on that second list, making them bigger than they should be in light of the things on the first list still not handled.  I don’t mean to reverse things – I just find myself easily distracted and somewhat fickle, qualities I’ve learned to enjoy on some levels, but on other levels they really stink it up.  Putting important things in writing is pretty helpful to me.

Have you ever found yourself in a season of priority adjustment?  What surprises did you find along the way?

Healing in the Meantime

I’m not the most coordinated person (Tahd, STOP LAUGHING), so it came as no surprise when, last February, I took a rather awkward tumble down my wooden stairs.  Jude wasn’t much more than a newborn, and the fog of sleeplessness coupled with the haze of colic hung thick around our house, and, quite honestly, I was probably due, not having had a spill in quite some time.  I don’t remember the details.  I just remember crying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, hoping hard that nothing was broken and trying not to scare my kids.

My left elbow took the brunt of the force, looking like this just a few weeks later…

2014-03-04_1393957895

 

Pretty, right?  My arm worked just fine, though, so I didn’t think it was broken.  And I went about life, because what mother with a newborn and two other kids has the time or energy to deal with appointments and doctors and xrays for a bruise?

**********

I can’t remember where I was going last week, but on one of our (many!!!) car rides–as I propped my elbow up on the arm rest–I remembered.  Ah, yes, don’t sit like that.  That elbow STILL hurts.  And then I realized that my fall had been more than a year ago and that we might have crossed the point at which this was still considered normal.

It’s funny how days turn to weeks and months and you figure the injury will heal in the meantime.  But it doesn’t always happen that way.

**********

For Mother’s Day this year, my family gave me a book I’d been wanting and also told me they were sending me on a little weekend getaway.  It’ll be part nose-t0-the-grindstone to get some writing done, and part girls’ weekend with some Texas friends.  So exciting! This is, certainly, one of the biggest benefits of Tahd’s extensive traveling…travel points!  They make trips like this possible.

My weekend is quickly approaching, and as it’s been getting closer, I’ve been feeling more and more anxious.  Not the good kind of anxious, either, where you’re so excited you can hardly stand it.  No, this is the anxiety kind of anxious, the kind that paralyzes and chokes and says, “DON’T DO THIS!!!  THIS IS BAD!!!”

Of course, it’s not bad, but it’s not coming easily to me. Tahd has been reading a book about fear and about listening to your inner cues (probably a gross oversimplification of the book on my part, but anyway…), so we were talking about my fear and trying to tease out its roots.  Finally, it all came tumbling out.

“I don’t want to go,” I told him, “because I’m afraid something will happen to me while I’m gone and my kids will grow up without a mother.”  Classic overreactive imagination on my part, which he gently tried to point out.  But you don’t understand, I thought.  I’m unlucky!

**********

When I was pregnant with Mara, two friends unexpectedly lost their pregnancies.  One of those women was in her second trimester.  I was so heartbroken over her loss and couldn’t get it out of my mind, and when I told a third friend how I was feeling, she sensed the depths of my anxiety and tried to firmly lead me out of it.  “You’re not Kim. Just because Kim lost her baby doesn’t mean you’re going to lose your baby, too.”  Wise words, and true, too.  But I did.

After the miscarriage, for the longest time I grappled with feeling unlucky.  Who loses a baby who had a heartbeat, who passed all the genetic screens, who was at the beginning of the second trimester?  Who loses a baby on Mother’s Day?  Who experiences a miracle only to lose it in a cruel, strange twist of events? An unlucky person, that’s who.  All I wanted to do was huddle up at home with my boys in an environment I could control, safe from everything out there that could “get” us.  Sticking together was the key.

Over time, the panic of going in separate directions abated, and the sense of unluckiness was gradually replaced with an odd but comforting mixture of grief, chance, and purpose.  But it’s still there, I guess, still lumbering and faltering under the surface, however deep.  This trip triggered it to bubble up.

It’s funny how weeks turn to month and years and you figure the injury will heal in the meantime.  But it doesn’t always happen that way.

**********

I had a regular checkup at the doctor last week and meant to ask her to xray my elbow, but I forgot.

Likewise, I started getting things ready for my trip at the same time as Jude lost his marbles–the figurative ones, not literal ones–and has, therefore, cried and carried on for hours.  So, I forgot about unluckiness and felt eager instead.

But forgetting doesn’t heal.  The injury is still there, going about its business.

Several friends have suggested my elbow is probably a bone bruise, and apparently bone bruises can take a long time to heal.  So, too, a grieving heart.  But do you know what a bone bruise really is?

Bones are composed of 2 different types of bony tissue, the compact (cortical) bone and the cancellous (spongy) bone.

The compact bone is the outer layer of bone and is highly organized, solid, and extremely strong…The cancellous bone is the innermost layer of bone.  Unlike the outer layer of bone, it is not arranged in concentric layers, but in plates (called trabeculae) which form an irregular meshwork that is neither as organized nor as strong as the outer bone.

The term bone bruise is a misnomer and makes the injury seem less serious than it is.  A so-called bone bruise is actually a fracturing of the inner layer of bone…

…An injury to this area of the bone represents very small fractures to the trabeculae in the meshwork of the bone and may be referred to as a bone bruise.  [source]

Treatment for a bone bruise is mostly rest, but I’m beginning to suspect I might also need a little physical therapy.  Something’s still not quite right in there, and I think it might need a little guided exercise to get it the rest of the way to health.

I think that’s sort of what this weekend is for my heart, too–a stretching, growing exercise to take my heart a few step further down the healing journey.  That–plus a few full nights of sleep and a little time by the pool–will hopefully help.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...