Our summer weather arrived this week (hello, heat wave!) but the kids are all back to school. Whomp whomp. Summer is officially but not officially over. We had an amazing few months together, playing hard at the beach and pool, traveling to Alaska, the Sequoia area and Irvine, and enjoying the freedom that comes with no homework, no strict routines, and plenty of time to snuggle in our pajamas.
Here's a little bit of what I learned this summer:
Three is easier than two. I realized something surprising over the last ten weeks. In our current season of life, having all three kids home is actually easier than Anna being at school. Not only did we not have to be out the door by 7:45am each day, but Anna bosses Owen around so well that I felt like I did less entertaining than I do when it’s just Owen and Luke at home. I know that someday my kids may fight like animals, so I truly soaked up their giggles and games.
Raccoon is the appropriate description for a 10-18 month old. Earlier this summer I posted a photo of Luke rummaging through our kitchen drawers—a daily, sometimes hourly, occurrence. A friend commented that he and his wife call this “The Raccoon Stage.” Ever since that comment I’ve actually looked at Luke’s curiosity with a little more humor and grace. For me, the early toddler stage is one of the hardest to manage and enjoy. Even though I knew what to expect this time, and I have a little more patience than I did for Anna and Owen, it’s still exhausting. (And, he’s not even walking yet! Ay yi yi!)
I’m more of the Wild + Free type than I thought. Our time in Alaska made me realize just how much kids push into their creativity and independence when parents aren’t hovering. The friends we stayed with have a huge property with one of those yards that doesn’t have a defined front and back. Every morning the kids let themselves outside in their pajamas and they proceeded to run around barefoot and wild for hours. They fed the chickens, drove their battery operator Jeeps, rode bikes, shot BB guns, swung, wrestled and laughed. They didn’t wear helmets (no cars around, no need!) which meant they didn’t need our help. Without rules, they seemed happier and more independent than I’ve ever seen them. Since then I’ve been giving Anna and Owen more freedom to roam our culdesac and nearby park, checking in every few minutes or hollering out our back gate to see if they’re within reach. They love it, and I do too.
Summer is the best time to train for a race. While I hadn’t abandoned running completely since having babies, it’s been SEVEN years since I finished the LA Ragnar Relay and then got pregnant soon after. Training for a long distance race requires a lot of time and I haven’t been ready to set aside other responsibilities and passions to pursue a disciplined running routine. Until now. This summer my half marathon itch couldn’t go unscratched any longer, and between more daylight hours and a less stringent morning routine, I knew I had seize the window of opportunity. The race is this Sunday in Ventura. I’m terrified I’ll get injured before then, so please pray for me if you think of it. I would LOVE to put a big DONE checkmark next to this goal, and be able to prove to myself that I can still run races after pregnancy and babies.
Summer is also the best time to read fiction. With many of our favorite TV shows off the air, and fewer evening commitments, I made a goal to read more fiction books this summer. What’s funny is that I read one in June, didn’t pick up another book until August, and have zoomed my way through four in the last few weeks. I’m convinced that reading begets reading, like so many other things. What fun it is to binge on fun books, to get lost in thrilling stories, and to stay up until 2:00am for the purpose of finishing the last chapter. (The Hate U Give lived up to the hype, in my opinion!) My GoodReads list here.
I still struggle with people pleasing. I've always been one to consider every feeling and every opinion but I thought that I'd matured in this area. I'm learning that even though I've come a long way in fighting my pleasing tendencies, I still have a long way to go. The apostle Paul says in Galatians that if I am still trying to please men, I am not a servant of Christ. Ouch. Those are hard hitting words. Something I've been thinking about is how the Gospel is offensive. And while I don't want to be offensive in how I talk about Jesus, I have to be okay with some people not understanding or agreeing with my faith. That's a lot to think about!
Sometimes you just need to wait. Despite our best efforts over the last few years, our middle son hated the water. While we made Anna take swim lessons starting at age three, I knew Owen would be a nightmare in the water for any instructor. So, I took a friend’s advice and gave Owen time to mature. This friend actually taught swim lessons for many years but her own son took a long time to warm up to the pool. I remember her saying, “You know, he’ll learn to swim eventually and I just decided that I didn’t want to fight him about this.” Even though learning to swim is a really high priority value of mine, I decided to set my self imposed rules aside and let Owen be Owen. This summer, once he turned four, we enrolled him in two weeks of private lessons. And, in just a few weeks time, he went from refusing to get into the water to jumping off the side of the pool. I am thrilled for him (and for us!)
What did you learn this summer? Read more great posts on this subject over at Emily P. Freeman’s blog!