A Summer of Rest

This summer of 2016 has been such a blessing for us. We started out with the express goal of using these few summer months to recover, to rest, and to prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. While we wish we could have a few additional months of life at this pace, I think this time has been a success.

Last winter and spring were filled with some of the most intense months of our married lives, as we contemplated and then committed to pursuing another adoption, as we faced the completely unexpected death of Matt’s sister, as Matt suffered a heart attack while we were in New York for her funeral (parts one, two, three, four, and aftermath), and then as we began to work out what all of that meant for our lives. We needed some time to recover and rest.

This is the first summer in years in which Matt has not had any undergraduate teaching responsibilities. It’s also one of the only summers in years in which we have not traveled to New York to visit our extended family there. We’ve said yes to some requests and invitations, but we’ve said no to many other opportunities – many of them good ones – and making all of those decisions has been hard.

However, the things to which we’ve been able to say “yes” instead have made it all worth it. I’ve had multiple one-on-one outings with each of my girls.

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It’s so fun to see their different personalities come out in their own ways when I get to spend time with them individually!

Matt has also been able to spend a couple days a week focusing on time with the kids, which has been a blessing for them and for him. They do school together, take trips to the library, make art, and have all sorts of other fun experiences.

That has given me large blocks of time to do adoption paperwork, put in some extra work hours, and work on some household cleaning and re-organization. It’s been such a blessing to feel like there’s real space for those things to happen, instead of trying to work them into my schedule in bits and pieces while the kids are playing happily for 5 minutes at a time or after they go to bed.

I’ve also been able to take more time to read, one of my greatest pleasures! I’m currently making my way through J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, and Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life. On top of that, I’ve been working out 2-3 times per week. I’ve been researching and learning about osteogenesis imperfecta and how we can be the best parents possible for our next little one. And Matt and I have been re-reading the Harry Potter series together and greatly enjoying that.

Matt has also been able to use the summer well. He has finished up cardiac rehab and transitioned to regular workouts at a local gym. He’s been able to write and to paint. He’s enjoying lunch dates with friends. And he’s generally appreciating having more space and time to think.

And in my regular days with our kids, it feels like we have a good rhythm that has allowed us to continue doing schoolwork but also have a lot of fun. We do park dates and pool time.

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We celebrate adoption milestones.

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Overall, it has been so good to re-evaluate our priorities and really focus on what is most important. I’m a child of God, a wife, and a mom, and everything else comes after those roles. There will be other years for travel, other times for saying yes to great opportunities for serving and for living. But for this summer, time for rest was exactly what we needed, and I have every confidence that these times are going to set us up well for the year to come!

Summer Goals – 2015 Edition

While my girls continue to insist that it is not truly summer until we hit its official start later this month, Matt is done with his semester, we have finished our homeschooling school year, and the temperature is regularly surpassing 90 degrees, so we’re going to go ahead and act like it’s summer 🙂 To that end, I’ve been thinking about how we can best spend these summer months, and I’ve come up with some goals for us. In no particular order, they are –

1. Work with the girls on moving toward learning how to swim.

Miranda is 5 and Madeleine CaiQun 4, and I’ve done approximately nothing to help them learn how to swim before this summer. I think swimming is a valuable life skill to have, though, so this summer, we joined a pool, the girls are enrolled in swimming lessons, and hopefully we’ll be making some progress toward swimming!

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2. Be consistent in working with the girls to develop self-control, kind words, and gentle hands.

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory 🙂 These are growth areas for us, and while I can’t force hearts to change, I can be consistent in encouraging good behavior and addressing issues that arise.

3. Work through 4-6 weeks of school curriculum.

I’ll share more about our plans for Miranda’s kindergarten and Madeleine CaiQun’s pre-k school year soon, but for now, I’ll just say that I think year-round schooling works best for our family at this stage, and I’d love for us to get a solid start in our curriculum for this upcoming year before the fall actually arrives!

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4. Get set for a mobile baby – and some days, 2 mobile babies! 

One reason for us to cover some ground with school this summer is that we’re going to be watching a friend’s baby two days a week starting in the fall, and obviously 2 babies require more care than 1! I’d like to have a better idea of what our school days are going to entail and be able to plan accordingly. Beyond school, though, we’ll need to make some changes to the set-up of our house, doing some child-proofing, etc.

5. Organize the playroom.

A few weeks ago I did some de-cluttering of the playroom and a bit of re-organization, but I’d really like to get it set up more fully and organized in such a way that is conducive to mobile babies!

6. Blog!

I really enjoy writing and blogging, and I’d love to be more consistent in writing this summer. I have some ideas for some posts I want to share with you all, and feel free to let me know if there are topics you’d like me to cover here!

7. Read more, in particular the parenting books I ordered this spring.

Another of my loves is reading, and with 3 little ones for whom to care and a multitude of tasks to accomplish, it’s easy to push it off to the side. I think it’s important, though, for me to expose myself to ideas outside of myself. Right now I’m finding it really encouraging and helpful to study parenting and learn more about strategies I can employ in shepherding my kiddos. I have a small stack of books I ordered this spring about parenting, and I’d like to make my way through them during the summer.

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8. Make it a priority to have fun. Say yes to things like walks, time at the park, and time at the pool.

We are doing some school and trying to keep some semblance of structure to our days, but I still want to enjoy and facilitate our kids enjoying this summer. I want to take advantage of nice weather, when it appears, and get outside and have fun.

9. Enjoy Atticus.

Our little guy is so incredibly adorable and sweet. I’m such a task-oriented person by nature that it can be easy for me to take advantage of the times when he is content to accomplish something from my “to do” list, but I also want to make sure I take time to snuggle with him, tickle him, smile and coo at him, and just enjoy the little person he is.

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10. Write in each child’s journal at least once.

From before our kids were born or joined our family, I’ve maintained a journal for each in which I write letters to them. I know that I won’t always remember each little thing they do that makes me smile or how I’ve thought about them at different times, and I want them to have a record of those things. I want them to know how much I’ve loved for and cared for them throughout their entire lives, how precious each one is to me. It’s hard to set aside the time to write, though, so my goal is to write to each child at least once this summer.

11. Finish writing and sending thank you notes to people who blessed us around the time of Atticus’s birth.

I’m generally pretty awful at writing thank you notes (as evidenced by the fact that Atticus is now 6 months old and I have still not sent out these thank you notes!). I truly believe it’s important to thank people who have taken time out of their lives to bless us, though, so I want to finish writing these and get them out to people.

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12. Go on at least 2 dates per month with Matt.

Matt and I just recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary 🙂 I think the first year after adding a child – whether through birth or adoption – is always challenging for a marriage, and we want to be intentional about sustaining our relationship.

13. Replenish our savings.

We’ve had several significant expenditures recently that have depleted our savings beyond the level we like to have it, so we’d like to earn and set aside some funds this summer to replenish that fund.

14. Build a more consistent prayer life.

This is something I consistently find myself struggling with. I find that parenting has driven me to prayer like nothing else, but I still am not sure when to set aside a specific time (or times) to pray, and I find myself often, in the moment, responding before praying, and I’d like that order to be reversed! Moms of littles, any suggestions??

 

This feels like a pretty ambitious list, but I’m hoping we can get a good amount of it accomplished before the summer is through!