Summer has its own rhythm and we just sail along with it the best we can . . . enjoying family vacations, “dutifully” following packing checklists for kids’ various camps, having lazy dinners out on the patio…letting each day unfold in its unique way.
Our Quiet Times might slip into a different timeslot as we try to get outside chores down in the early morning hours before the heat of the day.
We might snatch some devotional time during the afternoon lull when everyone has soaked up enough sun or we may experiment with late devotions when everyone is settled in for the night.
Dinner time may be a little different also. We eat later and “planning” is looser, typically more laidback. We might have more snack suppers or concoct some simple meals from what we find in the fridge. Breakfast dinners are always a win-win around here!
Occasionally, we’ll be motivated to do some batch cooking and stockpile some family favorites (i.e. chicken packets) that we can pull out at the end of a long summer day.
I don’t know about you, but it takes me a little while to ease in to a summer rhythm, letting go of the patterns that have nudged us along during the school year. Each week has a different flavor, depending on who might be visiting us or which one of the kids might be away at a camp. “Adaptability” is key. (at least that’s what I keep reminding myself when things are feeling a bit off-kilter)
So, we might be a little more sporadic sharing posts or offering workshops during this season. We’re allowing ourselves to “go with the flow” and give ourselves some margin for some spontaneous get-togethers along the way.
We’re all familiar with the preschool song about twinkling stars in the dark sky… “how I wonder what you are…”
As we’re careening to the end of school, the long stretch of summer prompts us all to wondera bit more than usual.
WONDER – to think or speculate curiously
My youngest peppers me with questions when we’re out together, asking how things work or pointing out advertising anomalies that don’t make common sense on the surface.
I often stumble through my responses and together we generate a lot of hypotheses, sometimes mutually agreeing to consult Syri in hopes that her lofty British accent will produce a more educated guess.
I love my son’s quirky observations and perpetual curiosity.
WoNdER – to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel
Summer road trips offer families a chance to veer off the beaten path and see some unusual things.
We didn’t necessarily have to understand WHY someone would create such oddities, but we did enjoy wandering about in awe of seeing typical objects accumulated and displayed in some extreme ways.
wonDeR – to doubt
As Moms, we frequently second-guess our day-to-day interactions with our children. We wonder if we’re doing enough. We wonder if we’re doing too much…
Whenever I’m unsettled about a particular interaction with one of my kiddos, I like to process through it on a walk. I’ll even choose a different path to stimulate my thinking.
I typically can glean some perspective that I didn’t have in the moment. I may realize I need to readjust my expectations or expand the timeframe involved.
The symmetry of nature soothes me as I explore my personal reactions and the unique personality of the child involved. When I see a flower blooming that has just reached its peak, it’s a gentle reminder that my children are blossoming at their own rates as well. Each one is in a different developmental season and I have to nurture in patient, subtle ways, mindful of timing and spacing.
WONder – a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, tinged with admiration
Sometimes a milestone highlights a child’s growth that’s been occurring all along, but is poignantly brought to our present attention in a formal rite of passage.
Our breath catches as we see our child cross the stage at graduation. As he is swept up in a week-long chain of celebratory events and inundated by sweet cards of validation from friends, family, and former teachers, something shifts between parent and child.
The child’s effort and determination emerges as the primary focus and our parenting role fades away, providing a backdrop for him to truly shine.
wonder – a miraculous deed or event; remarkable phenomenon
Each experience we’ve woven into our child’s life culminates in a unique blend of teenaged flair.
From the rainy kindergarten zoo field trips to numerous play sessions at the park, and all those family vacations, each contributes to a lifetime sense of curiosity.
It’s fun to see teens begin to seek out adventures on their own, perhaps participating in an overseas exchange program or a church mission trip.
Each new experience stirs up WONDER about other cultures and broadens their outlook a little wider.
As we teeter on the edge of summer, we have the opportunity to ponder a little longer, to question a little deeper… and to marvel at this season of our family’s life a little more intentionally.
To my graduating son, I look at YOU in Wonder.
I will always treasure our shared history fondly, tuck you into my heart tightly, and hold your future loosely.
We’ve had a lot of motherhood going on around us recently.
Our turtles have had 3 hatchlings emerge in a 10-day period that we have adopted out to some VERY happy boys.
An exciting adventure is in store for them as they observe turtle behavior and learn how to take care of these little creatures.
Our flighty friend, MamaDuck, has returned to lay her eggs at our house again in some tall feather grass. She picked a much better hiding spot than her previous location of a flowerpot out on the open patio in the midst of all the hustle & bustle of swim season.
I even had to do a little detective work to finally discover where she had nested this time…Look at how precisely she’s got the eggs tucked in!
I was admiring the symmetry of egg placement and carefully constructed nest when I heard the loud flap of wings as two male ducks arrived. I looked up just in time to see Katie revved up to greet them…
Somehow I managed to capture this sequence of their reactions: MamaDuck taking flight, her peaceful swim disrupted; the male Mallards barely dipping into the water to shoot back up into the air for safety; and our dog, charging merrily at wildlife entering her fenced-in yard. (She had already had a full morning chasing the scent of a rabbit that had been meandering all over the garden, the back and front yard. ) Her eager retriever instinct was in full gear!
During this past weekend of Mother’s Day activities, my husband joked that perhaps I was providing “too nurturing” of a home environment that prompted this explosion of nature going on in our backyard.
My hospitality dwindled when a mama squirrel built her nest IN our attic over the winter. The constant gnawing sounds that awakened us multiple nights in a 3-week period resulted in an unplanned home improvement project directed by a handy neighbor. The squirrel nuisance triggered a stream of workers traipsing through the house, cutting through a closet to get into the space to figure out where the squirrels got in and how to block their access. I’m grateful to be past the phase of activating the “alert” status which brought our neighbor to the door with a head-lamp and a pellet gun. Although he was disappointed he never “got” them, he tapped in to some creative squirrel-proofing that ended with some, um, rather unique Tree Art in our backyard!
Interesting times around here as mothers of all types are nesting, nurturing and launching their babies in different ways!
With graduation season in full swing, a lot of us mommas are in the same boat. Instincts of all kinds are kicking in and our emotions are tightly woven together like that MamaDuck’s nest. I’m not quite ready to unfold all of that yet though…
I’m still soaking in the moments of Mother’s Day weekend, family gathered around the table and my guys making special efforts to cook & clean. Beyond those intentional actions, though, were some of my favorite moments…a son showing up beside me to help plant spring flowers, or offering to make a grocery run and bringing back a smoothie for me, or vacuuming out my messy car.
Spontaneous hugs.A kind gesture.A sneaky smile. These little pauses when I get to capture a one-on-one moment are the snippets I hold onto dearly, tucking them into my heart as I watch these boys mature in their own ways.
Mama Nature has some pretty cool stuff going on this spring.
I’m grateful for the close-up view that helps put things into perspective.
Ordinary days punctuated by extraordinary moments are special gifts to a mother’s heart. I’m treasuring each one and hope you are, too!
Isn’t Snack a funny word? Just writing it and saying it out loud sounds silly. But lets definitely get this straight: a Snack is a serious business! My children “snack” more than they “meal”…(see, that just sounds ridiculous). Snacks tide you over till the next meal, they energize kids to get back outside and play, they stop whining on a car ride, they distract small children when you need a quiet moment, so on and so on…THEY ARE VERY POWERFUL.
Throughout our week, family members trail back home at different increments in the afternoons as school buses drop off and boys get picked up. My two older ones love to arrive first to the kitchen and begin “the snack”. After several years of this constant question, I wised up this school year and devised a snack strategy! And for your viewing pleasure, I have visuals!!
So here is my kitchen cabinet of Post-It notes. Somewhere between the third and fourth child, I resolved myself to the need of Post-Its if I was ever going to remember anything again. I use them ALL the time for everything. In the case of Snacks, this method works beautifully because I reuse them as needed. (And as you can also see, we don’t eat very healthy snacks always! I may need to revise that now that I’m looking at it!)
I usually pick the snack before they get home and lay it out on the counter with a note of what it is and how many they get if its something like cookies, brownies, etc… and if you don’t know about 3-2-1 Cake, let me enlighten you: a simple, one-serving cake that a child can make in the microwave. You need 1 Cake Mix of choice and 1 Angel food Cake Mix combined together as the Dry Mix. Independence abounds as a child scoops, stirs, zaps and eats!They can add chocolate chips, whip cream, syrup, whatever add-ins of happiness to their cake too.
There is always a big bowl of Trail Mix available in the house also. It’s easy and great for a quick grab and go snack. I buy all the ingredients in bulk to save cost; then make my own variations of yum!
And the food pantry has an ever-changing assortment of granola bars, applesauce and such that get thrown in lunches, and are grabbed up right before adventures.
Well, we could all snack forever, but after a while one gets thirsty… so I want to remind you that if you didn’t read my post on Drink Stations , then its time for you to get on board! Seriously, this technique has saved me many runny noses, coughs and such.
Super easy: set up a station in your kitchen with coasters, tray, compartment boxes, etc. and put your family’s names on designated spaces. The rule: 1 cup per day. Wash them at night and let them pick a new cup the next day! Everyone knows where their drink is; no one drinks after another!! Germs are thwarted. Dishwasher is not exploding. This is a game changer for me.
Alrighty! Here’s to tasty snacking! And don’t forget the Post-Its! They sure come in handy.