On the Cusp of Summer

The school year has flown by!  The 4 year old has finished his last year of preschool and is moving on to the big world of kindergarten next year.  And our 2 year old will be moving up to 2 days a week preschool next year…she’s excited because she loves doing art and playing with her teachers and little friends.  But in between the end of preschool last week, and the beginning of kindergarten in August, are THREE LONG MONTHS.  How will we spend them???  What will we learn?  How will we grow?  How will we create an ideal summer?

  1.  Slow downunplug, get hands free:  We need less TV and more outside.  Less screen time and more time reading books.  Less time where I try to get stuff done and the kiddos are in another room, and more time building Legos with the big guy and tall, tall towers so the 2 year old can knock them over with glee.  More Play-Doh shapes.  More bubbles in the backyard.  More Nature hikes, looking at the ants and the rolly poleys and finding sticks and leaves and little wildflowers.  More time inspecting the vegetable garden for new tomatoes, beans, strawberries.  Watching the backyard rabbits nibble grass and our plants.  Lying in the grass and watching the clouds, making up shapes.  This is when life happens.  These are the moments that create memories of a great childhood.  (Some of this is inspired by the book Hands Free Mama, about letting go of our devices and schedules and enjoying our kids).

 

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2.      We love our libraries:  I am relying on the schedules of THREE sets of suburban libraries this summer (Plano LibraryFrisco Library, and McKinney Library)…mapping out which kids’ program is happening at which library in which city on which day, wondering if the kids can make it to more than one event in a day, and updating the Google calendar for the myriad of free events from all the local libraries.  From traditional storytime to yoga to making Minion robots, the library is the place to be!

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3.  We will be reading LOTS of books:  And joining summer reading challenges at lots of bookstores…from Half Price Books to Barnes and Noble to the libraries, we have all of our summer reading lists getting warmed up.

4.  Pinterest projects are also our friends:  I love collecting ideas for Kid Fun on my Pinterest boards.  We’ve tried some of these projects, and summer is a great time to try more!  I’ll let you know how they go…

Wishing you all happy summers and lots of exploring together with the littles!

A New Beginning

As we rush thru the bustle and business of our daily lives, we feel like we are always running and never able to get caught up or enjoy any of what we are doing.  And some of us are finding that it makes sense to stop, breathe, and start again.  Here’s my take on what this means for me.  Perhaps you are experiencing something similar…

Life has been incredibly busy lately…like for the last 5 years.

Since we got married and had our first little one less than a year into our marriage. And especially for the last 18 months, after the birth of our second little love.  For the first 15 or so months, I kept telling my husband, and myself, that we were in survival mode.  We could do this. It was temporary.  We wouldn’t have to live like this forever.  One day our 3 year old would go easily to bed  by himself, and the baby would not be up multiple times a night.  One day we wouldn’t have to be so aware of nap times and plan our days around them.  One day we would actually be able to spend some time together and talk to each other without small people screaming and the TV on blaring Bubble Guppies or Diego.  Interrupted by multiple requests for chocolate milk.

Then a few months ago, I realized I could not continue to do this.   We had been burning the candle at all ends and multiple points in the middle, and we were both DONE.  As a full time physician as well as wife and mom, I had absolutely no energy left to give to my family after a busy workday, and my husband was burned out from parenting the littles by himself all day.   I would come home and play with and love on the kids until they were finally asleep, and then, if I was lucky, would have an hour or so to myself to do what I wanted to do, finally.  And that was it.  Day after day, living for that one hour to myself.  No spiritual growth.  No personal growth.  No relationship growth and no new friends.  And all because I was overwhelmed with the business of modern life.

What did I do?  Lots of things. I started doing a quick 7 minute workout on my phone in the mornings. I tried to become more active in our church’s moms’ group.  Met some great ladies, and that has been a new source of friendships and playdates for our little ones.  Became more intentional about what I was going to do with my precious one hour of freedom…planning little watercolors by looking on Pinterest or in my daily meanderings for inspiration, so that when I had time, I could put pencil and brush to paper and CREATE something.  I began journaling again, promising to tell myself the TRUTH and not sugar coat what I was thinking and feeling.  And I started reading books again, leaving work at lunch to be by myself and recharge.

Two of the most meaningful books I encountered were One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  Both have changed my life in different, but complementary ways.  The first changed how I approached my daily life, reminding me that giving thanks for the small gifts God gives awakens gratefulness and joy in my soul, and brings me into closer communion with Him.  Now I carry a little notebook with a blue and orange bird on the cover, and number the gifts I encounter each day….a beautiful sunrise, my son’s laugh, mushrooms in a morning field, sitting quietly with my husband together at the end of  a long day, the joy of watching my daughter toddle with glee around a green meadow.  I look forward to finding the gifts God leaves for me each day and give Him thanks for each of these.

The Fringe Hours is a more practical, but still life-changing book for me.  Jessica Turner encouraged me to be more intentional about how I spend my time so that I could have more time to recharge and take care of my soul.  So I now get up earlier in the mornings and get to have a quiet time by myself for reading, writing, and prayer to start my day.  No one is asking anything of me, and I get to start the morning by watching the sunrise and talking to God.  Awesome. I actually take a lunch break at work now, instead of trying to work thru lunch to get more done.  I go read somewhere by myself, sometimes journal, or go run errands or shop.  More me time that was there for the taking!  So now when I come home, I am refreshed because I’ve been able to find time to pursue my passions and nurture my creative soul while at work.   I get outside more…take the kids for walks with my husband, enjoy Nature, breathe the air, chase my little ones…and I have found JOY again.  Praise God.  And I am so thankful for another chance to start again…A new beginning.