My “Inadequate” Summer Routine

If you’re anything like me, you start to get a little nervous as the school year winds down.  Although I love the idea of carefree, relaxed days of summer break, too often the end of the day comes and I feel like it was a parade of chaos, followed by mess, followed by unproductivity, which leads to late dinners, missed naps, and exhaustion!  There is a lot of fun to be had along the way (mostly by the kids), but waking up every morning and resolving to simply “go with the flow” each day does not work well for me!  So this year, I decided to go into summer break with a better plan: a rough guideline for each day so that we get to experience a lot of fun activities, but still maintain a little structure.  Then I’ll let you know how our days have really been going!

So first, we made our summer bucket list.  Yes, I know, everyone’s doing that all over pinterest and they are beautiful, filled with coordinating designs and check boxes.

Exhibit A (from DIY Home Sweet Home):

Exhibit B (from Love Bakes Good Cakes):

{FREE} Summer Bucket List Printable

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE these printables; I really do.  I highly recommend that you click on the links and print them off if they will be helpful to you.  They are beautifully designed and have lots of great ideas for summer activities.  Plus, how gorgeous is the second one with all the fun fonts and colors?

However

When confronted with such a perfect list that promises a summer of fun family bonding, I am flooded with feelings of pressure, inadequacy, and guilt. I feel like there is NO WAY I can check all of those boxes, but I still feel like I should be because that’s what so-and-so is doing, and look at how much fun they’re having in their facebook/instagram/pinterest posts, and I’m that lame Mom who can only handle one big activity with the kids each day (which may be simply a trip to the local playground) and then likes to stay in the house the rest of the day – but not doing fun, interactive crafts or educational experiments, but just telling my kids to go play so I can get some stuff done!!!!  There’s a nice window into my thoughts for you – I probably should have warned you first.  Can anybody else identify with those feelings?  I just need to keep reminding myself that even if my life isn’t pinterest-worthy, it’s still meaningful and perfect for us!

So back to that bucket list – our family sat down together and threw out ideas of fun things we would like to do this summer.  Some things we couldn’t even consider, (one of the kids said “Disney World,”) but we were able to make a solid wish list of things we would like to do.  These included the zoo, aquarium, museums, parks, pools, splash pads, movie nights, picnics, a lemonade stand, walking around the Disney store, doing Mad Libs, going to the Lego store, going fishing, taking a trip to the beach for the day, and going on a hike.  From there, I did a little research on prices and distance and we narrowed the list further.

Then I had to turn my attention to our daily routine.  There are certain non-negotiables that must be done every morning.  These are the things that, if neglected, will make us starve, smell, and get rotten teeth.  I had grand plans for involving the kids in morning chores too but am still working on that.  It seems like it’s all I can do just to get them to clean up their clothes and toys from the various places they have been scattered around the house!  They do help water the garden, and the older kids love dusting, so that’s a start.

I envisioned that we would leave the house by 9, (with snacks, water, and lunches packed), for a park, pool, museum, or other activity.  Then we would spend all morning out having an adventure, coming home between 1 and 2 so Henry could have a nap.  While Henry napped, the kids could spend 30 minute increments doing different activities like their Summer Bridge Workbooks, Lego, computer time, playing quietly, reading, or watching TV.  Then they could help me prepare dinner (more family bonding!!), David would get home, and we would sit all together and discuss the highlights of our day while eating a nutritious meal.

That sounded great to me – not quite a fancy summer routine, and not very detailed, but it has a nice balance of activity and rest.  So the big question – has it worked?? Well, sort of.  As I said, I’m still working at getting the kids involved with chores (it seems like more work for me at first), and they have not helped me make dinner once (my choice, not theirs), but we have done some really fun things together.  We have been swimming with friends, gone to a splash pad, visited the nature museum, and played at a few parks.  We have also spent a lot of unstructured time in the house. BUT – I sometimes feel a lot of guilt over this, because that time feels SO unproductive!  And then I feel like a bad Mom for not having planned great activities for them.  Then I remember this blog post (“What Would My Mom Do? Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside”) that I read last year by Jen Hatmaker, and I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER.  She is hilarious, by the way, and one of those women who voices what we are all thinking but don’t want to say out loud!

As Jen says, making sure my kids know that they are loved by God and by me is my top priority.  They don’t need a pristine house to feel loved.  They don’t need alphabetized, color coded daily learning activities to feel loved.  They don’t need an intricate craft (that is also educational) to feel loved.  They don’t need me to be engaged with them every second to feel loved!  Aaaaaaah, reminding myself of those things makes me feel so much better.  I know I love my children SO MUCH and I don’t need to show them my love the same way other moms do.  I have so much respect and admiration for the moms that do all of those amazing things with their children!!  But I need to remember that not every mom sits for hours with their kids reassembling broken Lego sets like I did last week.  Or snuggle and read together on a regular basis.  Or pray every night before bed with their kids to thank God for the amazing day.  Or raise a tadpole with them because they really, really, really, really, wanted to!  It’s easy for me to overlook the things I do that show my children my love because it’s not what someone else does.  We’ve all heard the phrase:

Comparison is the thief of joy

I’m working on reminding myself of that every day.

How about you?  Do you find yourself getting stuck in a rut of comparing your average days with the perfection on pinterest?  Have you made any kind of summer bucket list or routine?  I would love to hear about it!

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The Best Sweet Potatoes Ever

The Best Sweet Potatoes Ever

Our family loves Mexican food.  We LOVE it – it is one style of food that we can all agree on!  Tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas, rice and beans…it’s all good.

Sweet potatoes are another story.  To me, they are always “meh.”  My husband isn’t the biggest fan.  And sure, my kids all devoured sweet potatoes when they were babies and it was pureed, but for some reason when they started eating solid food my older two never wanted to eat sweet potatoes again.  Not even in french fry form (what?!  I know, right?  I thought kids liked anything that was fried and could be dipped in ketchup).

Then this recipe walked into my life and everything changed.  It marries the unpopular (in my house) sweet potato with the delicious flavors of Mexican food and voila!  We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen!  I have my friend Brandie to thank for passing it along to me.  All five of us enjoy this dinner, and so sweet potatoes are in our regular dinner rotation.  I’m sure that these would come out tasting amazing if you followed the recipe exactly, but I changed a few things: I added ground turkey (my husband thinks a meatless meal doesn’t really count as dinner), and I don’t serve it stuffed back in the potato skins.  Instead, I wrap the mixture up in a tortilla with shredded cheddar (for the kids) and my husband and I eat it straight out of a bowl with cheese and avocado.  It’s also great as a dip for hearty tortilla chips!  I highly recommend the Trader Joe’s quinoa and black bean infused tortilla chips (pictured above).  Add some baby carrots or salad on the side, and you have a super healthy meal packed with flavor.  Did you know sweet potatoes are high in fiber and full of calcium, potassium, and vitamins A & C?  So if your kids (or husband) are convinced they don’t like sweet potatoes, try this recipe and see if you can change their minds.  🙂

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A Handmade Gift for a “Tote”-ally Awesome Teacher!

DIY End of Year Teacher Tote

I have always wanted to make an end of year teacher gift but have been too busy or last minute and just contributed to the class gift instead.  Well this year when I heard that Sienna’s class would not be doing a collective group present, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to DIY a gift!  I scrolled through Google Images for fun ideas and decided upon this tote bag tutorial from Skip to My Lou.  It was cute and simple, plus I could use a cheesy pun on the gift tag!  If you’re looking for a quick sewing project, this one is just right.  You need to be able to sew straight lines – that’s it.  The only changes I made were to iron some medium weight interfacing onto the wrong sides of the floral fabric before starting any sewing, and backstitch over the handles as I was sewing the layers together.  This gives the bag more body and makes it a little sturdier so it can handle a bit more weight.

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I love using a different fun fabric for the lining.  And this bag is made to be reversible, if her teacher ever wants to switch things up!

This bag would be perfect for carrying books…

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Her day to day essentials…

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Or any baby necessities (she has an adorable one year old!)

IMG_2005Sienna wanted to give one of her stuffed animals to her teacher’s daughter (so sweet!) and we also tucked a little Target gift card in there.  Because every teacher wants a gift card to Target!!

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Just don’t forget your cheesy pun-tastic gift tag!!

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This bag is a quick and thoughtful DIY teacher’s gift, but it would also make a great present for a friend.  Tuck a few of her favorite things inside and I’m sure she will love it.  You could use leftover “what do I do with this” fabric to make some reusable shopping bags.  A sturdier, woven fabric would make a great library bag.  Or use some cute fabric and sew up a new bag for yourself – just for fun!

Let me know if you make one yourself, or what you did for end of year teacher gifts!

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You Make Me Brave

You make me braveYou make me braveYou call me out beyond the shore into the waves

I have listened to this song by Bethel Music at least half a dozen times today.  I love the repetition of the words, “You make me brave.”  When I think of bravery, it immediately brings to mind images of soldiers or firefighters displaying acts of heroism.  Although these are without a doubt examples of true bravery, I think we can forget how we need to be brave in so many other ways.  Brave enough to correct our children, even if we know it will upset them.  Brave enough to share our feelings with our husbands on something we know they won’t like hearing.  Brave enough to ask that acquaintance to meet up for coffee, even though she seems much cooler than we feel.  Brave enough to invite friends over even though their houses are cleaner/more well decorated/more organized than ours.  This week, I’ve been facing the need to be brave despite circumstances around me that are out of my control.  I need to be brave enough to let go of the worry and anxiety they are causing me and to trust God with them.  Can anyone else identify with this quiet sort of bravery?

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