Tag Archives: summer

July Goals Post

July felt like the essence of summer. There was an entire month that had nothing to do with school, unlike June where we were wrapping up the school year and August where we begin again.

July was the month of family vacation and house projects and VBS. The high school graduate moved out for the month, leaving an empty space to work on for the youngest brother. In addition to the yearly goals, I set house project goals that were mostly accomplished ~ at least the most important ones.

Moving right along. . .

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

Bible reading has stayed on track, moving me into Ezra and Acts. Journaling is a bit sparse, though. Lots of books are being read. I will count To Be Told by Dan Allender here.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

Summer connection has been fun. Vacation offered many opportunities for various one-on-one moments. Steve and I continue date night informally each week, but there have been some formal dates added in there. We were able to get dinner out one evening and also grab coffee at the coffee shop a few times.

I connected with Coco over her room painting project.

From thispaint job

To this

Painted room

There were also other projects accomplished with the kids that offered us one-on-one time together. Lots of sorting and decluttering and organizing and caring for pets together.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

Creeping along, this happened. There was much that DIDN’T happen, as well. There are not enough hours in the day or days in the month. So to those who I tried to make grand summer plans with that didn’t happen, I am sorry. Thank you for grace.

There was some time with Becky and Angela .

There was time with my youngest sister and her family.

There was yes to fun on vacation!

fun

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

I walked Dewey A LOT this summer. Many times. Yoga, not so much. I really need to be better, as my body can tell when I slack off. The aging process is not kind.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

I am writing this post the night before back to school. Enough said there. Go around again!

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

In June I wrote the following:

By next month, I hope to have all of the reading complete and the first plane ticket booked. I also hope to have a space on my computer devoted to writing out my first assignment.

I have my first plane ticket booked and the first assignment ready to send in. This month I read The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

With the light summer schedule, I was surprised by leadership with the opportunity to do phone supervision for Stephen Ministry in July. That was such a gift, since it fell during VBS week. I was not on worship team until August. More about that next month!

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

Summer offered more time for me to help with keeping track of money. We are making progress together. I jumped in to helping balance the checkbook again.

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

I wrote and published seven blog posts during July. Most of my free time was spent on house projects trying to get lots of painting finished. What time left to write was mostly spent on personal work not being shared in this space. My Red Tent submission that didn’t run in July was posted here.

So here July’s goals are being recapped the night before I greet my students for the 2016-2017 school year. My summer flew by. To those who kept reading and following and encouraging me in the quiet spaces, thank you. You are the ones who remind me that you are there reading when I wonder if I should keep writing. You show up in just the right moment, and I am blessed!

Cave Quest Wrap-Up

Deep breaths and quiet and oh, the tears. The space that I long to fill, fills me. Arriving home after a full morning of singing on worship team, the house is eerily and deliciously silent.

While husband, children, and dog are away on an afternoon adventure, I putter in the kitchen, nap in my room, and rise to spend a few minutes writing before the next thing.

It is my last day of summer. It’s not really summer’s last day, but it is the last day of summer routine for me. Tomorrow I return to working my day job for a fourth year.

With this in mind, I wanted to finish the VBS wrap up that has been sitting in the draft folder since the end of July ~ which wasn’t that long ago, but if I don’t get it written, then it will be long gone and just another memory.

This was my best year at VBS and confirmation that Preschool KidVid Cinema is my VBS fit. In years past, I haven’t been as sure.

My first year of running Chadder’s Theater was full of surprises, both personally and in my changing role from Preschool Station Leader to the video person.

The following year found me running Preschool KidVid with none of my own children coming through the station. That was a huge milestone.

Last year I was met with the challenge of resting in unrest when the DVD that I was to show, the main point of the station I run went missing. One of the littles was finally old enough to help. Another milestone.

It’s hard to believe that this was my fourth year of running this particular station and my sixth year of helping out in some capacity. When I started, the littles were 7, 5, 3, and 2. Before that, I sent the bigs to VBS and stayed home with my own nursery of littles.

There was much ambivalence about whether to sign up again this year. My heart wrestled through many things including, but not limited to, where I am in this season, the work I am doing for fall, the limited time I have for myself, and the over-responsible place in me that often takes on more than is healthy, rather than allowing others the space to step up.

I passed by the sign-up table many Sunday mornings still praying about it. I really was. I was shown much grace every time. There was never pressure.

When I finally felt peace about signing on, it was because I still have four children to shepherd at home. I wanted something that we could all do to serve together, and while I could have sent them in and taken time for myself, I felt convicted to lead by example. I felt the call to offer up a sacrifice of time and the gift that I have to work with lots of littles to model service for my children.

And it was the best year, yet.

I loved working with the preschoolers that came through my station each day. I loved working with the crew leaders, station leaders, and other helpers. I loved being a support to those who stepped up into the major leadership roles.

I loved working with the preschool director.

At the end of the week, my heart felt so very full. I felt the maturing of my own children. For the first time we were able to leave VBS together each day without big meltdowns. This year one was a helper. Next year two will be of age.

I want to remember that it was a good week. I want to affirm that using this skill set and gifting of mine in this context was a joy, and that I received far more than I gave. While each year brings its own challenges, and we never know what the next one will hold, this one was sweet.

I am grateful.

Go Be You

How’s it going in here?

Popping my head into one of the preschool Bible Adventures rooms on VBS set up day, I asked a younger mom friend this question. Scanning her classroom I saw a tent set up. Indoors. There were also gray sheets draped over round tables, cave-like, and camping gear placed around the room.

Children, hers and their friends, crawled in and out of the tent and table-caves happily. The atmosphere was fun and intentional. It was kind and caring.

My first thought was, What a great room! What a gift of time she is giving to serve at VBS this week with her young children. Look at how she is setting up with them playing alongside of her. I remember those days well. Sort of. What was that blur, again? Yes! I did that, too!

Her eyes met mine as she answered.

Well, I thought things were going pretty well until I went out and looked into another room. Now I don’t know.

Laughingly, but not really laughing, I said, You broke the cardinal rule of life which is . . .

We both knew the answer and reminded each other of it together. . . Don’t compare!

In this instance it was, Don’t compare YOUR Bible Adventures classroom cave with the one next door or down the hall. Keep your head in your own room.

Soon it will be teachers. Don’t compare YOUR second year classroom with the thirteen year veteran across the hall. Or writers. Don’t compare YOUR blog or post or submission with the one trending on social media. Or mothers. Don’t compare your home, children, schooling choices, resources, the list of things we can compare there is endless. Or women. Just don’t.

This very day. Today. I left Sharp Shopper, and noticed another woman emptying the contents of her cart into her car. I began comparing, Did she find better deals than me? Why did she buy a flat of those? What did I miss? Do I need that, too?

I bought the things I needed for my family today. She bought what she needed for her. We both did well. 

It’s not that simple, and yet, it is. Good work done with our hand to our own plow is good work. We all have the choice to bring ourselves to this cosmic equation and step up with the gifts and tools we have been given to use.

In the words of P!NK ~ No one can be just like me anyway!

So put those blinders on and go be you! You are amazing! You are doing it, whatever it is that you need to do. Carry on! That is all.

Friendship Friday ~ Cousin Day

Yesterday was a special day. It had been written on a calendar block, cleared of all else. We spent all day with the Boston little boy cousins and their amazing parents.

My anxiety about having little people around for the day was alleviated quickly when this little one walked in, grabbed a recorder, and began playing while his brother accompanied him on the piano.

recorder

Uncle B patiently listened to Little Mae tell all about King’s Dominion adventures using her map of the park.

Mae and Uncle B

My baby and my sister’s baby smiled at each other a lot, which was a huge milestone for anyone who knows my baby and her thoughts about babies.

Baby B

Baby B won her over.

Mae and baby

Meanwhile, lots of creating happened. The cry of Guys, Guys! Look over here! caught my attention. I looked to see this little one with his airplane.

airplane

My much younger sister was caught wearing my perpetual mothering face in this picture. I so know the feeling.

mothering face

With everything happening at once, there were problems to solve, like the one of figuring out how to find all of the pieces and get this track to stick to the green board. Daddy to the rescue on that one! Problem solved.

track

It was sweet for my littles to get an opportunity to experience the life of their big siblings. Here Coco gets to feel like her big sisters when the littles were being born, holding a babe in arms.

Coco and baby

And these eyes and little chewing mouth. I could not get enough of them.

chewdalee chew

And this snuggly sleeper. I might have cried a little.

sleepy baby

Of course, a day with littles (or bigs for that matter) is not complete without some down time with a screen and a cuddly blanket.

screen time

This day was so full, pictures don’t do it justice. I finally had to put down the phone and just be in it, because everything was so much to take in.

I want to remember the moments of sweetness like a two-and-a-half-year-old cousin wandering into the TV room with his bowl of shredded cheese and climbing up next to Kirk and asking questions about Minecraft. My thirteen-year-old’s patient response and offer of letting him play reminded me of how Caleb treated his little brother, and my heart swelled.

I want to remember the conversations with my brother and sister that felt natural and relaxed and made us forget that we live hundreds of miles apart and that this doesn’t happen every day. Moments of falling asleep on the couch or walking out into the yard or playing UNO Attack (thanks, B!!!!) felt like they happen every day.

And dinner time. Oh, the dinner table.

I want to remember shopping with my sister and planning our meal like it’s the most normal thing in the world, all while talking about everything. I want to remember cooking and being together and living life.

I want to remember what it was like to have a full dinner table and the littles getting to be the bigs and experiencing the noise and cries and trauma of food touching other food or too much ketchup coming out of the bottle or corn on the cob rolling onto the wrong place on the plate. Our table was full and loud and fun.

Our day was full and loud and fun.

My body, mind, and soul felt full and tired and happy and sad and grateful, so very grateful.

sister selfie

At the end of the day when, Sister Selfie! was called, here is what we got. Sister selfie, plus one. I am old enough to be this girl’s mom, so I could technically be a grandma. Technically. Not yet.

For now I relish being auntie to this precious little one and his brothers and will hold so many special memories close to my heart.

It was a very good day.

June Goals Post

June found me in a place of endings and beginnings. Ending the five kids in five different schools year and the high school career of child four took a lot of energy. Beginning the summer did, as well.

In the midst of it all, I tried keeping up with and tracking the goals, though I must say that the vigor of the first half of the year feels faded and worn. I am tired.

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

I finished 1 Chronicles and am moving right along into second. Romans is where I am in the New Testament, and the second half of the year means a second journey through Psalms. Proverbs moves verse by verse throughout the entire year, so I am up to chapter 19. My faith-based book, thanks to the work I am doing this fall was Trauma + Grace by Serene Jones.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

Steve and I have set aside Wednesday nights to connect and hang out. If you are at all curious about Wednesday Night, just ask our children, and you will get an earful. Sometimes we talk, others we watch a favorite Netflix episode or a movie. More topics of hard conversation are arising the closer I get to fall. More temptations to flee and escape are, as well.

The porch swing has offered a great space for us to process life together.

Connecting with the children during the summer looks different than the school year, due to the more relaxed nature of life and schedule. Little Mae and I took a birthday day trip together to Richmond to visit big sisters early in June. I didn’t do well with keeping track of individual times together this month. Some of our times have looked like working on painting projects one-on-one or heading to the pool or sneaking out for coffee or walking to the mailbox to mail a letter.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

This is going well, as my summer schedule offers open days. I have had friends in for coffee in my corner and met with them at the pool while our kids swam. This is the first year ever when I have been able to go to the pool and just sit on the side reading or talking with a friend. That. Is. HUGE!!!!!!!

Adult kids continue to show up and are always welcome.

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

I usually am good about starting my day with yoga. It is so necessary, as I notice a difference in my ability to move when I don’t, and that is just a fact that comes from being mid-forty with a bockety back. I have added core work, as well, with the reality that I have to work harder to keep what I have sinking in deeper daily.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

Of course, it’s summer, and school is out. Teaching has taken the back burner, though I have picked up a few new things here and there for fall and jotted down some ideas. I took a few hours one morning to organize and pack up my desk and am trying not to borrow trouble from fall and just stay present in summer. Mid-August will come soon enough!

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

This is real. It is really happening, and now goals in this area look like booking plane tickets and reading assigned books and beginning the writing assignments. The Healing Path by Dan Allender and A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D. claimed my reading space this month.

By next month, I hope to have all of the reading complete and the first plane ticket booked. I also hope to have a space on my computer devoted to writing out my first assignment.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

Summer schedule is here, so this area is lighter, as well. I plan to sing in August, the Sunday before returning to work.

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

This continues to be my weakest link. Always room to grow here!

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

I submitted a Red Tent post that didn’t run this month, so I am considering posting it here on the blog. It was excellent preparation for my work this fall. With writing assignments approaching, I really need to be intentional to make writing a priority and not just the thing I get to do when everything else is finished.

There you have June’s goals report. I almost need a sub-category for summer goals. Summer brings with it the hope of finishing some painting projects and getting rooms sorted and rearranged along with a reality check that fall is fast approaching. Oh to practice presence in the moments!

Parenting Tip 99

Mom! Are you using Parenting Tip 99 on me?

What’s that, Daughter?

Offer to do a chore and then do it so horribly that your kid can’t stand to watch anymore and just does it for you.

Hmmm. That wasn’t the strategy when I offered to mow the backyard, but I’ll take it. Parenting Tip 99, it is.

The lawn mowing adventure started this morning with cool temperatures, overgrown grass, and several able-bodied people home together for summer break. Knowing that it would not be an easy task, I summoned middle-school girl-child and asked if she wanted to mow front or back yard.

Offer choices. I’m doing great!

She chose front yard.

I went to find middle-school boy child to break the news that he would be mowing the back yard and received news of my own.

What! I always weed whack! No. That’s not my job.

Ah. Classic response AND mother snafu.

Know your plan and people’s regular jobs before announcing changes.

Since I mow better than weed whack, I offered to mow the back yard.

Let me clarify. Since I have mowed a lawn once and weed whacked never, I figured I would practice my mowing skills.

Ok. Then I will mow the back yard.

I’ll mow it, Mom, girl-child replied upon hearing the news. I usually do.

No, I said I would do it, and I need the practice.

I promise that I wasn’t being passive-aggressive.

Walking around the mower a few times and fiddling with this and that, I realized that I needed to ask for help. Back inside I went to ask eleven-year-old daughter to help with starting the mower.

That might have been when she realized I needed some supervision and direction. She began instructing me in the backyard mowing techniques and patterns that her father taught her.

Do you want me to go around the edges like Dad did for me the first times I mowed the grass?

Sure, that would be helpful.

She arranged the picnic table up on end to begin the first section, started the mower, and began to walk. I watched.

When it was my turn, I clumsily began pushing. It was harder than it appeared until my instructor showed me the lever that would activate the self-propelling feature. Then it was too fast.

Here, let me show you. Wait! MOM! Are you using Parenting Tip 99 on me?

That’s when I learned about Parenting Tip 99. It’s also when I remembered how hilarious all of my kids are when they are not driving me crazy!

I promised that I wasn’t. I really wanted to learn how to mow the lawn, and she was being a great teacher. We were making some amazing memories, as well.

The lawn is now mowed. Teamwork during the morning means one less thing for Dad to have to supervise in the evening. We are trying to navigate this summer.

With Mom at the lawn mower’s helm, anything can happen!

Summer Rising

It’s not even technically summer, yet, but we will call it summer.

School is out, finally and completely finished for everyone. The first morning of us all home together wrung me in the worst of ways. In the span of hours there were tears and heartache and disappointments and relief, and that was just from me.

Each child had his or her own voice to add to the chorus. Fifteen minutes of weeding the side yard and watering the rogue vines growing in the dirt pile out back offered a bit of relief for my soul.

I woke from a nightmare that was morbid and gruesome and disturbing. It’s meaning makes complete sense to me. My brain is full and dumping data on overtime’s schedule. Vivid dreams are one way I deal with overload.

After traveling at breakneck speed for the last weeks, it feels as if my internal emergency brake handle was pulled, leaving emotions to fly forward as I simultaneously jerk them back. The collateral damage felt through my eyes and heart reminds me of the messiness of even the good parts of life.

Day One. Send off adult kids to their own homes on the heels of a big graduation weekend. Process hard places and disappointments and Plan B with newest adult and send him off, as well. Hear the rest of the voices left under the roof, clamoring for attention. Drop one at a friend’s, take the others to the library, make semi-annual contribution to the library’s operating fund in the form of overdue book fees, talk to a sister or two on the phone, read for a little while. Try to write. Feel feelings that are stirring and allow self to cry. Go to quiet corner only to find it claimed by the queen of the house. Sit on bed instead.

Zephyr

I am trying to accept the arrival of summer with open hands. I see the kindness in the chaos and the goodness in the grief. It is only day one. There is time for space to open and for dust to settle and for change to offer perspective, as I feel summer rising.