Sigh.

So, can I just break the weeks-long blog silence? By telling you all that my summer planning never really came to any fruition at all? I mean, like AT ALL.

Pretty much none of the things that I planned ever happened. I don’t really know what happened to summer. We didn’t read the books I had hoped we would read or do some of the fun projects that I had thought we would do or practice math or visit Grandma in Cinci or discover a new letterbox weekly. We didn’t even get to the lake all that often.

I am still sort of shocked that it’s August. Let alone MID-August.  Yikes. It’s hard for me not to just label the whole thing one big, dismal FAILURE. And the perfectionist in me is scared to death of THAT. And the putterer in me is a little bit afraid that maybe I have some real issues to think through in who I want to be and how I spend my time.

It’s true. I really am wrestling with some things about myself. But, don’t be sad for me. It’s not a bad thing. Wrestling can be a really healthy thing. I think I’ll wait and share more about that process at a later date.

But, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still here. This blog is still one of my favorite places to be. (In fact, my sweet, newish friend, Hannah, is about to give it a facelift!! I am super excited. But, I digress. More on that later, too.)

I think I was just sort of embarrassed to admit that my summer planning was a flop this year.

And that I yelled at the kids a lot more than I wanted to. Especially when they bickered or were ungrateful. I’m sure I read in one of Dobson’s books that screaming at your kids because they’re screaming at each other is the best way to parent. You remember that book, too. Right? *wink*

And I allowed myself to get stressed-out way more than I think is right. All of you dear friends who really know me, know that I am not a good multi-tasker. For real. I know, I know. Women are supposed to be these global-type thinkers who can have lots of things going at one time and multi-task with ease. Not me. At all. Instead, I putter around looking at all the tasks and then get stressed-out because I’m out of time to do them. Ask my kids. They know this better than anyone.

So, that’s my sob story. I knew I couldn’t just pick up writing again without admitting it to you. Summer simply didn’t turn out the way I had planned.

But, you know, I am reminding myself that it really wasn’t a failure. Some really neat things happened this summer. I’ll tell you a few highlights tomorrow. Because I want to cultivate gratitude. I want to be mindful of the beauty.

God makes beautiful things – even when I do a so-so job of cultivating space for them to grow.

Mapping Summer

This week brought the official start of summer. The kids have already been out for two weeks. But Tuesday made it official!

The kids and I finally made some headway with our summer planning. It’s been fun to dream a bit about how we want to fill our blank slate!

This is a process that is best done together – so that the kids own the summer too. This doesn’t mean that you abdicate and let them call the shots. We start with a few parameters that I have set. As the parents, Rick and I get to craft our overall goals for the summer. The kids simply don’t have the perspective or maturity to see the big picture yet. From their perspective, having fun would always trump everything else. You and I both know there are other worthy goals for the summer months – things they might not even like very much. {wink}

These goals are not details or specifics. They are the big picture stuff. For instance, one of our goals is making sure we keep using our brains all summer. Just because they’re not in school, doesn’t mean they stop growing intellectually. Notice, my goal doesn’t say howwe’re going to accomplish that growth. The how comes later.

When I’m thinking through our summer goals, I try to think through some of the various aspects of life: relational, physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Some goals might overlap various areas. For instance, another summer goal for us is to get outside into nature several times a week. If we choose to go on a scavenger hunt in a metro park with friends, that could be physical, relational, and intellectual.

(Confession: not all of my goals are so lofty. I have one goal just to get more “slugbugs” than my son. He always sees them first. Stinker.)

Once we’ve decided on our goals, we move to making lists.

  • Fun lists. A summer soundtrack. Things we don’t want to miss this summer. Fairs or festivals to attend. Friends we hope to hang out with. Treats to make or try. Outdoor adventures to pursue.
  • Growth lists. Books to read. Journal topics for writing. Ways to help the kids practice math. Spiritual growth ideas. Challenges to undertake.
  • Chore lists. For me AND the kids. (Lest you think Rick gets off with no chores, don’t be fooled. I affectionately refer to Rick as Ultra Type-A Man so he doesn’t need our help with lists. He gets plenty done. Believe me, he has his own list. In fact, I’m pretty sure his list has a list.)

Then, after we finish our lists we start putting some things in the calendar. You’d be amazed at how fast the summer fills up. We have 10 weeks left.

The purpose of all this planning is simply to help us do the things we really want to do. Not to bog us down or tie us to our calendar. But, to help us really seize the things we want to and not just get stuck in a rut.

What about you? Have you made any progress with a summer plan?

The danger, of course, is to get so caught up in the planning that you miss summer. Wouldn’t that be a horrible irony?!?!  The other pitfall could be putting too much pressure on your goals. There are no perfect parents out there. What if the kids don’t actually read as much as you had hoped? I mean, truth be told, almost nothing has gone the way that I planned this summer. It’s just my reality so far this year. (I have a theory that as soon as you decide to write about something, it never actually works out that way. But, I digress…)

And, please, no comparing your family to other families. Yeesh. That will just kill your summer.

But, then again, input from other people can be helpful – as long as you’re not trying to live up to some crazy self-imposed standard. Here are a few resources that I have found helpful. Really there are tons out there. Especially now with the so many excellent mom blogs out there. Don’t get sucked into spending too much time here. But, have fun poking around…

Do you have any you would add to the list? What resources do you use to help you plan for summer?

Packing and Pausing

The bulbs are packed, the teapot is back in its box, the decorations lovingly stored away. Another Christmas has come and gone. And with its passing comes a new year.

In many ways I’m ready for it. It always feels good to put the Christmas decorations away and get the house back in order after the holiday hoopla. The packing up also signals a welcome return to routines. The kids get back to school this coming week, our home & work schedules return to normal (whatever that is), and all the specials (special food, special programs, special celebrations) have past. Routine is a good thing for my heart.

I also love the prospect of a fresh new year. A blank slate of days. Can’t you just feel the hope that permeates the air at the start of a new year?

But, if I’m honest, I’m also not so ready for it. What if the hope just disappoints? What if all my dreams for 2010 fall flat on their face? In fact, what are my dreams for 2010? We’re already three days in to the new year and I haven’t really planned or reflected much. Can’t you just feel the pressure that threatens to paralyze your heart at the start of a new year?

I’ll be taking some time this week to plan and reflect. I’d rather tread slowly into this new year than make a list of resolutions that will overwhelm me or cause me to strive all the more. I’ve been there too many times and I know that the striving can only lead in two directions: either it makes me prideful or it crushes my spirit. Neither inspire me.

There are a lot of things I don’t know about 2010. But I do know that I want it to be a year marked by dwelling and depending. Dwelling with the Lord wherever He has me. And depending on His Spirit for a heart that reflects His.

 

As I reflect this week and set aside time to prepare for this new year, I’ll likely be blogging some of my thoughts here. As I do, I hope that you’ll join me in spirit. The start of a new year is a great time to pause and consider who you’re becoming and how you’re spending your short life on this earth. I’d love to hear your hopes and dreams for 2010. Feel free to comment or drop me an e-mail (shannon-mckee@sbcglobal.net).

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