inspiring joy filled living

Hello Summer

July 7, 2020

This is one of my most favorite times of the year. School is out for the summer and after the morning fog fades away a warm, sunny afternoon stretches into late evenings. The kids play with toys that have been pushed to the back of their closets because Mommy has to get some work (or dishes!) done and I gently remind them to go find something fun to do, on their own, because I’m not a cruise director.

I love summer meals filled with fresh tomatoes and juicy watermelon topped with mint from our garden. I’m always amazed that despite my brown thumb, something I planted actually grew! This year our tomatoes impressively grew over our wall and into the neighbor’s yard! Incredible!

Summer has always felt like freedom and brings a sense of much-needed laziness after a busy spring. This year is no exception. I’m exhausted, but in a completely different way. Instead of craving time at home after a season of running around, it is my mind that needs the break. Juggling homeschooling, work and a three-year-old was…well, bananas. I don’t know a better way to describe it. We had to say good-bye to our sweet cleaning lady and my hands-on in-laws that helped me wrangle kids once a week were no longer coming over. My hubby’s work schedule stretched both in hours and demand. As his gym closed in March, he was suddenly creating an entirely new business on the fly. So in a nutshell, our spring was bananas.

I’m not sure who was happier when the zoom classes ended mid-June. After all the assignments were turned in and parties came to a close, I cried. Like locked myself in the bathroom and cried. Tears of joy and relief. But also tears of now what?! September is an eternity away (and that’s if they go back to the classroom!) and the months ahead of us are dotted with the unknown. Will the beaches be open? Parks? Playgrounds? Will we have playdates? Visit family? Honestly, sitting here staring at July, I still don’t have any answers. But what I have come to learn about myself is that I usually need a good freak out, cry-session and then I can move on. Even a haphazard plan somehow makes me feel better.

Here’s where I’m at.

Reading! My girls are reading every day and I’m convinced that part of it is so they can get a moment of quiet every once in a while! My oldest is loving Harry Potter and the very cool graphic novel version of The Baby-Sitters Club. My eight-year-old is obsessed with Amelia Bedelia, Ivy and Bean, and Cam Jansen. And my three-year-old loves picture and board books. Some of her favorites are Pinkalicious and Ladybug Girl. At the moment I am reading “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst and “The Power of the Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian. Both of these books have been exactly what my soul has needed in the midst of a pandemic with no end in sight. To see more of my favorite books, check out my favorite book list here.

Water toys! My hubby and I got a water table for our oldest when she was two years old and I swear it has been a big hit for the last 8 years. My now eight year old and three year old still enjoy dumping water and like Mary Poppins’ bag, they keep finding long lost bath toys in our deck box to play with as well.

Water on full blast for my oldest!

I’m also absolutely loving this turtle! Might just be the best under $20 toy I’ve ever spent on water fun! Amazon, you never disappoint! Just hook it up to the hose and you’re all set! Plus the lawn gets watered, I call it a win-win.

Thankfully we were able to adjust the water pressure because my littlest preferred “only a tiny bit of turtle water!”

Baking! I know I have definitely been spending more time in the kitchen over these last few months. After cooking 900 meals since March, I decided I need to delegate to my kids. My ten year old has been the most eager to learn and has since mastered peanut butter and jelly toast, bagels topped with cream cheese, and quesadillas (on the stove!). She is also chopping carrots, strawberries, and apples like a pro. She even (gasp!) made lunches for her sisters while I took a work call. Magical! My youngest has taken to raiding the pantry and helping herself to various snacks and has perfected the art of silently taking the wrapper off of yogurt cups. Hence I’m now finding yogurt cups everywhere. My middle daughter is usually too busy to be bothered with food but when she finally does get hungry, she’s happy to take an apple out of the fridge and eat it whole. Bless her. Not a single dish or utensil needs to be washed. One thing that we have all been enjoying making (and eating!) are snack-size protein balls. Right now, we’re loving chocolate protein mix (this is my favorite kind) and almond butter with a bit of cinnamon! So yummy! And they even satisfy my insane sweet tooth. Check out my Chocolate Protein Ball Recipe here.

Cleaning! As mentioned above, we had to say good-bye to our incredibly kind-hearted cleaning woman in March (luckily out friend that had referred her to us was able to take our day!) and anyone that knows me decently well knows I’m kinda a neat freak. Neurotic might be a better description. I can’t stand a messy house and clutter drives me bonkers. Not to mention being home 24/7 and seeing said clutter…well, you get the idea…I needed help to tame the chaos. What started as gentle reminders quickly turned into full volume threats. I may or may not have said I’d throw everything you own on the lawn if you don’t put it away. Ultimately, we needed a plan. Step one: only bring out one game, toy, puzzle at a time. Step two: put game, toy, puzzle away before you get the next one out. Rinse and repeat. Any sane person would agree those rules make sense. And any mom worth her salt knows better. However quarantine certainly has allowed for repetition and now that we’re not rushing out of the house to be somewhere, we have plenty of time to clean up. I will say that the girls have gotten much better. And one of my favorite things is to “catch them being good!” When they do something good without being prompted, I get ridiculously excited and make a HUGE deal out of their good deed. I heap on the praise and nothing is better than seeing their little faces beam. The best!

In addition to overall expectations for things like make your bed, brush your teeth, put your clothes in the hamper (not next to it!), we have written out a list of household chores as well. Everyone helps fold and put away laundry. And right now everyone is really into swiffering and mopping! Our mop makes some great creaking sounds and squirts water decently far, which I think might be part of the fun. My oldest has also taken it upon herself to write a list of chores so she can start earning an allowance. It has been glorious! Her motivation: an adorable little backpack she saw at Justice. Yes, Justice. It was our first time in the store and I swear I had flashbacks to being her age and begging my mom to go to Wet Seal, Contempo, and Claire’s. Standing under the fluorescent lights illuminating everything sparkly, glittery, and preteen cool, I had this weird pang that my baby was not a baby anymore. At ten she is thinking about fashion and fitting in, and although it is a right of passage for most of us, it still makes me a bit sad that she is growing up so fast. The days of shopping at Gymboree have passed, even though it feels like yesterday. She is such a good girl and my prayer is that she keeps Jesus close to her heart so that the pressures and pains of growing up easily bounce off of her and her super cute Justice backpack. Funny enough, my eight year old could have cared less about 90% of the store and was most excited about the stuffed squishy toys, and my preschooler wanted to touch all of the necklaces. All of them. Insert hand sanitizer as we are still in a pandemic. What started as a quick stop to see if they had swimsuits, turned into a three-hour tour (Gilligan Island reference, anyone?)

Games! Life, Monopoly, Clue, Uno (and Dos–very similar to Uno!), BattleShip, Dominos, Mousetrap, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish, Twister (we love the Trolls edition!), Guess Who, matching games, and tons of puzzles. We are dusting off the cobwebs and it’s like Christmas as the girls rediscover our plethora of board games. I’m happy to see the games being used and the kids playing together. Of course, sometimes things run smoothly and other times there’s screaming and door slamming, but overall the shrieks of delight have won out.

And for all you Frozen fans, this one has been a big hit in our house! With 6 games to choose from, the girls are having a blast with it!

I wasn’t much for games in my younger days. I had a hard time sitting still and games always seemed silly to me, especially in my twenties, unless it was some version of Flip Cup! That usually only transpired after a decent amount of alcohol consumption. Unless jungle juice was involved (why I drank anything a frat boy gave me, I’ll never know!), I avoided game nights like the plague in favor of “more fun” adventures. Maybe that’s what life with three kids brings, or perhaps a byproduct of being 37? The bar scene hasn’t called my name in years and sitting at home playing another round of Uno with my favorite people is exactly where I want to be.

Where have you found yourself this summer? What are you doing while at home? How are you keeping the kids busy? I’d love to hear what you’re doing to feed your soul, especially right now in this crazy time.

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