Summer Week 5

I’m way behind, y’all.  I gave up on daily chores for the kids after 6 days in, but I’m still not giving up on my pic-a-day idea.  So here’s what I can remember from the last week and a half!

Day 29 Homework

 

 

 

I spent the morning riding the trails at New London again.  It’s sort of refreshing to be so new at something that you experience noticeable growth every time you try again.  Most days I feel like I’m stuck at the same speed when I run, but it’s obvious that I’m getting faster on the bike.  I’m guessing most of that, though, is from the fear subsiding and not really from gaining much fitness.  I’ll take it anyways.

I spent the rest of the day working on homework.  I chose these pictures to remind myself that I really do enjoy the work that I’m doing.  Sure, a few more days at the pool with no deadlines would be great, but I know all of this will be worth it when I eventually step into a full-time role helping teachers teach math better.

Day 30 Carcassonne
After the morning teaching two year old Sunday School, the kids and I headed to Richmond for our yearly staycation at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Chica snapped this picture when we were teaching them how to play Carcassonne.  Bubba pouted through this first game because Grandpa stole his great big ol’ city, but he came back to beat us by one point in the rematch.

Day 31  Bike Riding
On Monday morning Grandma, Bubba, and I left the other two sleeping while we went to Rockwood Park.  They played Pokemon while I ran….and I also happened upon a bunch of RVA rocks.

Later we rode bikes around Grandma’s lake in order to check out the July 4th parade route.   I still pinch myself every time we go out on a bike ride now.  No baby seat, no buggy, no trailer, no training wheels, (almost) no fighting….it’s pretty great.

 

Day 32  Bowling

 

 

 

 

It was crazy hot in Richmond in the beginning of the week, so bowling was at the top of our list of indoor fun things to do.

I chose the second and third pictures here to remind me of Chica’s growth lately.  At one point she got upset during bowling thanks to a brief argument with Bubba and being pretty far behind in points.  She pouted for a short while and then articulated, “I don’t want you to cheer for me unless I look excited”.  In other words, our attempt to encourage her even when she had a mediocre turn was just annoying to her.  That seemed like reasonable request, so we honored it.  And guess what?  She recovered.  Almost instantly.  There was so much joy in the moment I snapped that second picture.  Can you see that Bubba was doing a celebration dance?  🙂  I’m so proud of her for figuring out what she needed and communicating that to us so clearly.  #progress

She nearly lost it again trying to spend her arcade tickets at the junk counter.  Mom-math-teacher was expecting her to do her own mental subtraction to see how much she had left, but she was feeling frantic and refused to think through it.  I tried really hard to stay calm and remind her there was no rush, and she eventually got there….without the phone or paper & pencil.  On another day her overly emotional response would have escalated to the point of me choosing to throw the tickets away and making her walk out without anything.  This time we recovered together, and it didn’t have to come to that.  *Mental note….we need to work on thinking about adding up for subtraction!

Day 33  Independence Day

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve decided it’s more fun to be in a parade than to watch one.  In preparation for my parents’ neighborhood parade, we went to the Dollar Tree and bought every tacky red-white-&-blue decoration imaginable for Jay’s Jeep.  I think the results were pretty awesome.  

I spent the afternoon trying to convince everyone that going to watch fireworks at the fairgrounds would be worth enduring the mobs of people, traffic, and heat.  I was right.  Also, I haven’t figured out any good way to photograph fireworks with an iPhone, but glow sticks look pretty cool!

Day 34 Rock Climbing

In case you missed it, a few months ago I wrote about the disaster that was rock climbing on Chica’s overnight field trip.  She has asked repeatedly since then if we could give it another try, and our RVA Stay-cay seemed like a good time to go.  As anticipated, she got a little weepy when both Bubba and I got higher than her, but she so held it together.  I’m proud of her for trying again!  Bubba actually got stuck at the top and had to be “rescued” on his last climb.  We had lunch at Bottom’s Up after climbing, and Grandma wowed the kids with stories about the time the restaurant was flooded.


Day 35  Bonus Beach Day

 

 

 

 

 

The plan was to go to Kings Dominion on Friday, but the weather forecast just stunk, so we postponed it one day.  Instead we visited Yorktown Beach, a place Grandma had taken them before, but I had never been.  Sand and water without the fear of kids getting swept away by the ocean current is my jam, as Chica would say.

Day 36  Kings Dominion

 

 

 

 

 

Our annual trip to Kings Dominion is easily the most anticipated day of the summer.  However, this trip was super extra special because the kids got to spend the day with their cousin who we haven’t seen in a long time.  They picked up right where they left off and had all the fun.  We were there when the park opened and didn’t leave until it closed!

Day 37 Back to Reality

The transition back to Mom’s rules after a week of Grandma’s rules was a little hard for Bubba this time.  He was convinced I should let him eat the melty Peppermint Patty he found in my van at 10:00 am on the way home, but I was determined that was a no-go.  He preceded to moan and whine like he might die of starvation, even after having two other snacks.  So in desperation (and with quite a bit of sarcasm), I handed him an entire English cucumber that Grandma sent home with us.  “Here.  If you’re really starving, chew on this.”  And he did.  He ate the entire thing, and we’ve been laughing about it ever since.

That night we drove to Nana’s house for dinner with the top down.  Yep….I’m that person wearing a hoodie in the middle of the summer.

We had a great time in Richmond, but man, it was also good to be home!

 

Camping at James River State Park

When Jay and I were dating, we went camping in Florida over winter break.  Most of the details of that trip are gone from my memory, but I do remember one pretty clearly.  We had just finished a really yummy dinner and he asked me, “If we get married, can we keep going camping like this?”  Um….YES!  Six weeks later, he put a ring on it.  Fourteen years and two kids later, we still love camping together.

Friday

Friday we left for our trip to James River State Park.  For dinner that night we had chicken & veggies cooked in foil packs, the same meal that I’m pretty sure convinced Jay he was ready to start talking about marriage 14 years ago.

Saturday

I’ve been counting down the years until Bubba would turn 6, the minimum age for tubing, canoeing, or kayaking at the park.  I ended up deciding to take the kids tubing Saturday morning because I remember enjoying that as a kid.  I just had a whole paragraph typed out about Bubba’s bad attitude during this trip, but I’ve decided I’m not going to let that define my memory.  Instead I’ll choose to remember the rapids that felt big from the water but look tiny from the bank, the magic of watching the bottom of the river zip by you in the shallow parts, and our stop on a sandy island to poke around.  Tubing was just as fun as I had remembered it.

I know Gerry Brooks would not approve of this photo, but I couldn’t help myself.   In the afternoon I took the kids to the Discover Area, a natural playground of sorts.  They played, and I prepared for my upcoming book club in the shade.  I love these slow moments.

 

Saturday night we took a wagon trip to the Tye River Overlook with a park ranger.  (Jay took this shot of us on the ride, and I happen to love it!)  The ranger had an electronic owl call to attract screech owls.  On our third or fourth stop, right about the point that Bubba fell asleep in my lap, we finally got one to respond!  It talked to us from a nearby tree for several minutes, but we never spotted it.  On our last stop we heard both the whinny and bounce calls, and two owls called back and forth to each other.  We joked that we had just helped to make an owl love connection.

Sunday

This day started out the best way…with a run.  I took the Cabell trail, and in keeping with tradition, got slightly lost.  The trail map and markings are great at the park….about 95% of the time.  But when there’s an arrow pointing left and no real trail going left, you just have to make your best guess.

 

The night before, Bubba asked to join me on the morning run, but we all knew that would be fun for like the first 5 minutes.  So I promised him a short run together when I got back.  He turned out to be a much better running partner than expected.  We took the Cabell trail in the opposite direction from what I had just run and figured out where I went off course.  I’m still sticking with the fact that it was a signage error….not mine. 🙂

Later that morning we went to two programs led by the rangers.  We watched Cobb, the corn snake, eat his weekly meal of a tiny thawed out mouse, then both kids held him.  We also learned lots of interesting ways to start a fire, and Chica got to try it out with a magnifying glass.  When I asked the kids at lunch today what their three favorite parts of the weekend were, both of these were mentioned.  I was slightly underwhelmed, but they were enthralled.  Doesn’t it often work that way??

If I’m being honest, I feel like I have a hard time connecting with this one these days.  I’ve written about that a bit, but that feeling keeps nagging at me.  So when she expressed interest in kayaking, I jumped on the opportunity to spend some time just with her.  We rented two boats after lunch on Sunday, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  She was (is) brave and strong and chatty and positive and encouraging.  We docked our boats twice and explored.  At lunch today both of us voted kayaking as our favorite part of the trip.

As if we hadn’t already packed enough into this day, I ended up sending the kids on a scavenger hunt before dinner.  I hid some Dollar Tree toys around the campground with clues, and they rode their bikes to find them.  The hunt was followed by a few (mostly drama free) hours of playing together.

Monday

I was feeling brave this morning, so I decided on a morning bike ride instead of run.  I’m still so green at riding trails.  I picked the longest, easiest trail in the park, the River Trail.  Most of it was a really wide, grassy path, but the end had several super steep downhill sections.  I’ve been reading about taking risks in my math teacher book, and I know risks are how we learn.  So…..I leveled my pedals, stood up, stuck my elbows out and butt back, cried out “Jesus! Jesus!” a few times, and went for it.  I lived to tell about it, y’all.  It was kinda fun.

The rest of the day was just packing up and hot.  Real hot.  The most exciting thing that happened was that we found a black widow spider building an egg sac on the top of our tent, under the rain fly.  I snapped this picture and took a short video before Jay killed it.

 

And finally, a few more pictures just for fun!  I asked Jay to send me a few of his best photos from the weekend.  Apparently he either really likes funny face photos, or that’s all we ever do when he pulls out the camera.

   

 

 

 

Summer Week 1

My typical back to school conversation goes like this:

Friend:  How was your summer?
Me: Great!
Friend:  Did you do anything fun?
Me:  Yes!  We went camping.  We visited my parents in Richmond and went to Kings Dominion.  We swam at the Y.  I took classes.  It went by too fast.

Yes, camping and Kings Dominion are highlights for me, and much of my time will be taken up with grad school, but each summer has so many other small moments worth remembering.  Moments like eating ice cream for dinner and baseball games and bike rides.

So I’ve decided to try to post at least one photo and memory each day this summer.  This way I can look back on August 7th and remember that the summer was more than our two trips and studying.  I fully realize that this plan might go the way of summer chore lists and never make it past the first week, but it can’t hurt to try, right?  So here goes….

Day 1  Last Day of School

The hours and hours of work I put into the end of year video certainly felt worth it when I watched students sing along:

This lovely lady will be a senior next year, and we ran into her at the GO Center picnic.  Michelle taught her in third grade, and I taught her the next year in fourth.  She made such an impression on both of us.  I’ve always known she will accomplish big things in life!  I had another favorite student stop by the day before with her mom, and two more on Friday.  It’s such a gift to watch our students grow up and become the amazing humans that they are.

 

And I got this letter from a current student.  Day made.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 Code Girls

As soon as my semester at VCU ended, I decided to tackle my summer reading list.  Up first was Code Girls because I wanted to hear Dorothy Braden Bruce speak during the Randolph College Reunion.  At 98, she was witty, charming, and fascinating.  My favorite moment was when the interviewer asked her if she was scared to head to Washington to do a job that she knew nothing about.  In a very matter of fact way, she said, “No.”  She felt fully prepared for whatever she might face because of the education she had received at R-MWC.  I certainly knew that feeling, and I think so many of the other women in the room did too.

As an added bonus, I ran into two class of ’03 friends who where enjoying their 15th year reunion.  What a great surprise!

Day 3  Conquer the Cove 25K

 

I spent the first 8 miles with Ruth and Rhonda.  Their company made the miles pass quickly and put me in a good mood.  I didn’t really mean to, but I pulled ahead of Ruth when we hit the long, uphill fire road.  I’ve decided, for now, that I like fire road climbs better than single track climbs.  I think that the hilly downtown run that (the other) Ruth and I do a few mornings each week paid off!  I ate lots of pickles, saw one tiny turtle, tried to run with gratitude, and stayed mostly dry and clean-ish until the last 5 minutes.  Maddy coming up from behind motivated me to keep pushing all the way to the finish.  Being kid-free after the race allowed Jay and I to hang around, cheer for our friends finishing the marathon, and take the long way home.  It was a perfect day.

Day 4 Small Victories

I accomplished something this morning that I’ve been wanting to do for months….I cleaned off our porch.  It had accumulated an unruly collection of toys, tools, and broken junk, and there were weeds climbing up from both sides.  Tonight Jay and I enjoyed the first of many hours of summer porch sitting.

We spent an hour at the YMCA pool this afternoon.  The last time we went, Bubba got up the nerve to try the swim test, but he didn’t pass.  He tried again today and earned the red band, granting him access to their super cool slide!  I’m proud of that kid!!

Day 5 Enchiladas

During the school year I forget how much I like to cook.  We get stuck in a rut of Chic-fil-A, pizza, hamburgers, and waaaay too many Lunchables.  At least for now, while I’m not taking classes, I’m enjoying cooking again.  Last night Chica helped me make chicken piccata, and tonight Bubba helped me with enchiladas.  Neither of them was really a fan of what we cooked, but they’re not a fan of much when it comes to food.

 

 

Day 6 Gifts

This morning when I returned from my morning run, I found some out-of-the-blue gifts in my chair on the porch.  That Jay Proffitt is one smart dude.  He knows I like practical gifts, hence the work gloves and shovels.  He also knows that my enthusiasm for weeding our flowerbeds might last longer if I have the right tools to use.  And finally, he knows I lose stuff….hence the triple pack of gloves.  Love.  For the last few mornings he’s enjoyed his coffee on the porch while I pull weeds.  I think he’s always wanted to keep me company like this when I cook, but I have to concentrate way too much.  Weeding is mindless, so we’ve enjoyed those few cool minutes just chatting before the sun comes up and over the house.

After dinner tonight we went for a one mile walk on the Creekside Trail starting at the Farm Basket.  I think Bubba’s the only one that’s not afraid of the swinging bridge, but he was not so sure about the big sinkhole right before the steps.  I was so thankful that Jay put his video editing work on hold for an evening and came with us!

Day 7 Home

 

 

 

 

This was the first day we didn’t go to the pool at the Y.  I had great intentions of cleaning up and planning for the summer camp sessions I’m leading next week, but it just didn’t happen.  I read a bunch and played Carcassonne with Bubba while Chica played Minecraft.  In the afternoon we invited friends over to play in the sprinkler, and after dinner we rode up to New Covenant to let Chica learn how to get on and off her new to her (and almost too tall) bike.  We got it earlier this week from a Facebook Marketplace post.  She fell that day while trying to stop and scraped up her knees, so she was pretty hesitant to get back on it.  But as you can see in the picture, she got over that today and was thrilled with herself for learning how to stop and work the gears.  Watching them both finally ride confidently makes me so excited for our trip to Damascus in the fall.  It will be our first go at the Creeper Trail with no one being pulled in a buggy!

The kids are spending the night with Nana and Papa, so Jay and I enjoyed the best kind of date at Mr. Goodies.  I didn’t snap a picture, but we both commented like 17 times about how good it was.  I’m pretty sure it tastes even better than normal when you are kid-free. 🙂

 

Yep. I Cried.

That’s me on the left

The year was 1992.  I had my Umbro checked shorts, two pairs of Keds, a Saved By the Bell inspired sleeping bag, and a pillowcase my mom had sewn for me.  No worries that I didn’t really know the super-shy partner I had been assigned, thanks to a pair of inseparable besties in my GA group.  I didn’t care.  I was heading to CAMP!

It was just as glorious as all the big girls said it would be.  The songs, the mountains, the pool, taps at night, counselors that doted on us, Poptarts for breakfast…..all of it.  Unlike many girls my age, including my assigned bunk-mate, I don’t think I spent one second being homesick.  It was way too fun for that.

Summer after summer I found myself back there.  I got called Haley Mills for my Parent Trap haircut.  I learned songs that I still sing to my kids when they are dragging on a hike.  I met Jesus there.  I got my first job there.  Actually, working at camp is the only job that I’ve ever had except teaching.  I learned hard life lessons there.  I became brave there.  Eventually, during our years on full time staff, we started our family there.

So all of that to say I had some unexpected mom emotions well up in me this week as I helped Chica prepare for her first week away at overnight camp.  Something like fear mixed with sadness mixed with worry mixed with get-yourself-together-she’ll-be-fine.  I can distinctly remember my reaction to moms who stuck around just a little too long when they dropped their kids off at camp:  “When my kid gets big enough to go to camp, I will not be doing that mess.  I will drop her off and go.  Not try to make her bed for her, not cry, NOT baby her.  Moms like that just make it worse.”

Except that day came today, and it didn’t go like that exactly.  I did not make her bed, and I did not cry in front of her.  Actually, I didn’t even hug her goodbye for some reason.  But as she stood up on the steps and introduced herself to everyone, I bit my lip willing the tears not to come.  I saved them, but only until I was back in the car.  

I stared here at the cursor for a few minutes trying to think of exactly where the tears came from.  The tears came from so many places.  Thoughts of my mom getting me ready for camp and wondering if she felt all the same things.  Realization that a week will go by where I won’t remind her to brush her hair, and she’ll be just fine.  Hope that she’ll find a friend who gets her and will make the week that much more fun.  Knowing that having experiences apart from us, from me, is what growing up is made of.  Jay joked when I got home that “even stone-cold Tracy” cried.  Yep.  And I’m owning it this time.  

Have a glorious week, Chica!

When There’s No School Monday

In my book, three day weekends are permission to take two full days off.  Why waste a perfectly beautiful, almost-summer day grading papers and answering emails when you can save that for Monday?!

So yesterday after I had finished my Saturday morning long run, Jay reminded me that it was almost time for him to retire to the bat cave for a full day of paper writing.  (Unfortunately the three day weekend rule doesn’t apply to master’s students.  Bummer.)  I knew that in order to keep both of us from losing our minds, the little people and I needed to vacate the premises.  It took a while to decide on a destination, but I finally landed on Holiday Lake.

Before lunch we fished from the dock and checked out what the rangers had to offer at the “touch table”.  After lunch we visited with the rangers again to make an owl craft.  I think perhaps the two poor guys had seen enough of us, so they suggested a short-ish hike to an overlook for us.  I finally took out my camera at this point…

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Bubba thought this tree looked like a train.  Minutes later, he got too close to the bank and completely submerged one of his boots.  He wasn’t such a happy hiker after that._MG_8608

Chica is into maps these days.  She was our navigator.
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I love this picture that Chica took…
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And of course if you let one try the camera, you have to let the other.
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Here’s where I count my kairos moments for the day.  I just sat on the bank watching them throw rock after rock after rock into the water.  This never gets old…for me or them.

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We visited the rangers one more time and tried out their casting station.  So fun!  I’ve already put this Backyard Bass set on our upcoming Christmas list!

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We ended the day with a few more minutes of real fishing and ice cream on the way home.  Bubba had missed his nap, so he slept on the way home and then even longer once we got back.  Perfect.

Come summer.  Come long, peaceful days of new adventures.

One. More. Day.

One more day of waking up to, “Mommy, can I get in bed with you?” instead of the alarm clock. One more day of making lunch when it’s time to eat it instead of 6 or even 16 hours earlier. One more day of going to bed without feeling guilty about all of the things that are undone.

This summer has been amazing.

Does every teacher turned stay-at-home-mom have that first day of summer fear? I look forward to summer all year long, and then it catches me off guard every time. What….I have to entertain these people all day? These people who don’t listen to me and argue with each other over nothing? But soon, as in the next day, we catch a rhythm and we like each other again and it is fun. This summer was no exception.

I keep coming back to the word full. About halfway through the summer I talked to one of my school teammates about something that I have since forgotten. Once we had taken care of our school stuff, she asked me about our summer. As I rambled off our trips taken and our trips planned, she replied, “Wow! What a full summer!”

So I’ve been thinking about how there are two kinds of full. There’s that full that leaves you miserable. Where you’re done and it was delicious, but you know you should have stopped at two servings instead of three or four. That kind of full leaves you tired and needing to sleep it off to recover. And then there’s the full where you’ve had just enough. That’s the kind of summer we’ve had. The kind that leaves me knowing it was delicious and perfect, but also feeling refueled for what’s next.

But I’m a bit afraid….afraid of two things. First, I’m afraid I’ll forget about just how good this summer tasted. I’ll get busy and bogged down and forget that I had two months off to enjoy my family. I’m also afraid that I’ve spent those two months slowing down, clearing margins, and learning to like my little people again, only to forget how to do those things promptly on August 22nd. So I decided to make a list. A list I can read on August 22nd (and again and again) to remind myself that I was, in fact, full and refueled to once again to do this job I am called and recalled to do each year. So here goes…

*I spent my first week of the summer teaching classes to teachers about Edmodo and interactive web tools. One foot in the classroom and one foot at home was a good way to ease my way into summer. It was probably good I didn’t go straight into all mommy, all the time.

*For Father’s Day we made fun videos with our new camera for both Grandpa and Papa.

*Chica spent a week at LCS soccer camp which meant that Bubba and I had a few hours each morning together. We filled our time with errands, visiting a friend, checking out the library, etc. Bubba’s favorite part of that week was certainly the snow cone he got to share with Chica each day when we picked her up!

*I got to go to teacher camp at JMU to learn about STEM. Jay was working summer school, so the kids also had their own vacay with the grandparents. Highlights of that week for me included finding a running partner and new friend, eating whatever the heck I wanted, visiting a winery, and a late night conversation on the lawn with friends just like we were still in college. Oh…and I learned a few things about STEM too. (Ask me about my Thneed invention sometime!)

*We spent Jay’s one true week off at CrossRoads volunteering as a family. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was more well-rested by the end of that week than I have been since the birth of Chica. No internet coupled with no responsibilities past set the table, clean the table, take pictures, and keep my two kids under control was bliss. I also admit I had tremendous fun watching CariJoy experience so many of the same frustrations that I remember feeling.  She was doing a fantastic job.

* The next two weeks were Chica’s swimming lessons at Miller Park. I think she likes swimming, but she enjoyed the socializing much more. Me too! I spent each morning hanging out with another swim mom and her sweet kids. Bubba learned quickly that her bag was full of snacks. They were best buds for the two weeks.

*Chica, Bubba, and I all experienced our first real train ride in West Virginia. Our long weekend with Daddy, Papa, and Nana to ride two different trains was just perfect. I have yet to write about it in detail (maybe one day…), but our day on the steam engine was definitely my favorite. From Bubba napping in my lap to Chica falling in the river totally unfazed, it was a perfect day.

*Nana and I followed that weekend trip up with a girls+Bubba trip to Virginia Beach. We learned from this trip: 1) There’s no point in taking a book to the beach when you have two kids with you. 2) Book the hotel early next year so we can get an actual beachfront room without breaking the bank. 3) We’re going for 3 nights next time. One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting a long-time friend and her fun family in their home. I hope we can return the favor one day!

*Then the kids and I headed off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a week. Each morning we had a plan to be out of the house by 9 am and doing something fun…park, botanical gardens, library, etc. At nap time we worked on cleaning out rooms and closets and gathering stuff for a yard sale. We had planned to have it that Saturday, but rain made us postpone it until this past weekend. That totally turned out fine with me because I spent my birthday eating Chick-fil-A, playing at the Y, resting, and relaxing instead of haggling over quarters.

*As if that wasn’t full enough, I feel like there are a million other things that happened that don’t show up as I review my (only partially filled in) Google calendar. The kids and I surprised Daddy on his birthday with balloons and coffee at work. I taught Sunday School to kindergartners. (EEK!) I cut all my hair off and donated it. I started training with my sweet neighbor for the Ten Miler. Chica passed the swim test (finally…yesterday), got to paint pottery as a reward, and conquered her fear of the Y’s water slide. Jay started his Master’s program. We started a LifeGroup and have eight new dear friends we eat with and do life with each Thursday. We hiked. We played. We jumped on the trampoline. We read books. We grew vegetables. We went to the movies. We got to know our neighbors. We took naps. We stayed up late. We enjoyed each other.

And you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t go to school. Ok…there was that one time. No lie…I went in once because I needed whiteout at home and was too cheap to go buy some because I knew I had at least 17 bottles in my desk drawer. Besides that visit, and teacher camp, and two days of NASA stuff this past week, I didn’t do school. And I am so thankful. Admittedly I’m a bit anxious for what that means for this coming week, but I’ll take it. It will all get done. It always does.

So I’m going to spend my one more day tomorrow (err….today, now) loving on my babies and napping and preparing for the months ahead. But I think my preparation will look a little different this year than in years past. I’m not cracking open the lesson plan book or pacing guides just yet. (Shoot…I haven’t even bought the lesson plan book yet!) I’m going to spend the day thinking and praying about how I will carry the summer into the school year. How will I continue to carve out margins? How will I continue to build up Jay as he tackles a tough year of balancing school and work? How will I continue to enjoy my little people as the pressures of work build?

May this coming school year be just as full. Full of blessings and growth and joy. Full in the good way!

Today From A to Z

Applesauce—Both kids ate two cups today at lunch. These days Bubba insists on adding a drop of food coloring each time he’s served applesauce or “yogrit”. Today he had one green cup and one red cup.

Blackwater Creek—We started the day with no plan whatsoever. Scary. By 8:30 we decided on a hike starting at the Farm Basket as our first to-do. Chica couldn’t figure why it was called Blackwater Creek when it was looking so brown today.

Crying—There has been much of that lately. Ugh. We’re trying so hard to teach Chica that she needs to reserve the full on sobs for life or death situations. See U for today’s teachable moment.

Dishes—I find myself being reminded over and over these days that something is better than nothing. Kids, house, husband, God, exercise….seems to work in all directions. Standing over my sink during nap time I rehearsed this line. Getting the dishwasher loaded and started was something. The sink wasn’t spotless and I didn’t finish everything, but doing that much was better than not starting at all.

E-mail—I’m waiting these days on an e-mail from Sallie Mae to say that she has forgiven $5,000 of my college debt for working in a Title 1 school. Any day now, Sallie.

Franky—On our hike this morning we found a turtle. The kids together named him Franky. I snapped a picture of him and sent it to Jay for his daily we-wish-you-were-here reminder. When Jay got home he asked Bubba, “Who’s Franky?” Bubba, in his old man voice, replied without hesitation, “Oh, that’s a box turtle we found on our hike.” I love that old man voice of his. And I love Jay for asking.

Grieving—A sweet friend of ours lost her mama this week unexpectedly. I can’t even imagine. Wish I could have been there for her tonight.

Hammock—When I started my A to Z list tonight, Jay was attempting to fall asleep under the deck in his newly acquired birthday present. He asked if I minded if he slept out there. My response? “Of course not, as long as I get a night out there another day!” I think the bugs have since sent him back inside.

Ice cream—Mommy confession: I have cut out treats after lunch each day for the kids. However, as soon as both kids are down for the count at nap time, the first thing I do is grab a bowl of ice cream. Do as I say, not as I do kiddies.

John—Our life group challenge last week was to read through the book of John. I started much too late to finish the whole book by Thursday, so I’m still working my way through it. Our goal was to read it like a story, focusing on the idea of a beginning, middle, and end without getting bogged down in the details. I’m liking this plan.

Knocking—Bubba heard the sound of a woodpecker on our hike and didn’t know what it was. Chica and I together explained how a woodpecker gets bugs from trees. We never saw the bird, however. Bubba must have asked us ten times in a row, “But where IS the woodpecker?”

Laundry—I came home from the pool this afternoon grouchy because Chica was grouchy. It took two small things to get me to stop moping: 1. I sent Chica to her room until dinner was ready. There was much sobbing, but she actually stayed there. 2. Jay offered to fold the laundry tonight. I love that guy.

Marble game—This toy is still out in our living room…it usually doesn’t make it more than a day! This morning before breakfast I sat on the couch and just watched both kids play happily together for an eerily long time.

Neighbors—Can I just say we have the best? I have such sweet friends on both sides of our house. I started the day with one (See T) and ended the day with the other. We are so blessed.

Omitting words—I should have known. Bubba asked for the Stripes book for the 5th or 6th night in a row. Sheesh this is a long book! So tonight towards the end I started skipping words and a few sentences here and there. Let me tell you, there is no getting by Chica on that! She found me out right away. Jay’s laugh while listening to our conversation from the other room was priceless.

Pool—Bubba’s request for the day was to go to “the pool with a playground.” So off we went this afternoon to Miller Park pool. We have been spoiled with the indoor pool at the YMCA. There was lots of whining.

Quack—Chica is still trying to get Bubba to play along with some (dumb) joke about dogs and ducks. It’s lame, and I think he knows that, but he so wants to do whatever to make her happy. I think the gist of the joke is that if she asks what the dog says, he’s supposed to say, “Quack.” Yeah, I don’t really get it either.

Rip—My dumb joke of the week is calling Bubba “Rip”. Today before nap time we wrestled and tickled and teased. He laughed every time I called him that. He’s easy.

School—I’m trying not to think about it.

Three miles—I’m so thankful for my neighbor friend who’s been dragging me out of the house at an un-summer hour for a run. Today we talked about church, school, kids, pets, and everything in between.

Under the table—We ate on the deck tonight. Under Chica’s chair was a huge spider web and ugly spider. Instead of an, “Ah! Spider!” or “Hey…can you get this spider web?” she just started wailing. Somebody please tell me the drama queen stuff will die down soon.

Vlog—This is what I watched today while folding the first half of the laundry. It’s definitely my favorite background noise for getting chores done these days.

Walk—With a bribe of chocolate, I convinced my little family to take a lap around the neighborhood after dinner. For the first time, we made it without any stops to rest.

X-ray—On Wednesday I took Chica to the doc in the box to get her knee checked out. There was much drama over the knee throughout our quick beach vacay at the beginning of the week. The x-ray was clear, but she was told to ice it and rest. In spite of a fall yesterday off the tall end of the porch with her bike and onto the prickly pumpkin plant (??), she seems to be doing much better. Phew.

YMCA—I love that place these days. Today I swam 25 laps while the kids played in the Kids’ Gym and playroom. Mommy confession #2: Yesterday I finished my workout, took a shower, and since my two hours weren’t up, I sat and read a book for 15 quiet minutes while they kept playing. Eek.

Zucchini—We got our first one out of the garden today. That was a long time coming!