The Highs and Lows of Summer

At night when we eat dinner, we like to go around the table and share “highs and lows.” Something good that has happened in the day and something that wasn’t so great. Elle doesn’t quite understand the idea and hers often go something like, “My high was going to the zoo with mommy and Bea. And my low was seeing daddy when he got home!” Maybe it’s that her life is truly one big high. More likely it’s that she’s just too young to understand or remember the tough parts of the day. I love hearing about her lows-that-were-really-highs.

IMG_0485Summer is over and as I reflect on these past ten weeks out of our normal routine, I feel a bit like Elle. The highs and lows kind of meld together. A high was having unstructured and free days. A low was having unstructured and free days. Elle is reminding me of the both/and rather than either/or of life.

In that spirit, I thought I’d share a little summer update of highs, lows, things I learned, and little mundane moments.

Taking a Writing Break is Good for the Brain
I decided to take July off of blogging. I had a couple book reviews and things but mostly I kept this computer shut. I didn’t even send out my monthly newsletter! It was good to not stress about (self-imposed) deadlines and goals. But here we are, the second week of August, and I’m slowly stretching my writing muscles again. Routine helps. I know that as I sit down and practice, the words will come back. But it was hard to truly let go. To live in the moment. To not wish a bit for kids who were just a little more independent. It will come. Every year is so different. But it’s a tug, being productive and living in the moment.

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Threenagers are the Best… And the Worst
Now that Elle is three, I’m remembering what a cool and awful season this is. We are catching glimpses of the future. Travel is easier, the girls’ friendship is blossoming, and Elle’s vocabulary and humor are so fun. Mixed with all these amazing moments are the frustrations of wanting to figure things out herself. I’m not much help, as I’m itching for a more independent season, as well. I’m remembering to slow down – for both of us – and take in these moments slowly, without wishing them away.

Screen Time is July’s Best Friend. But Unplugging is Pretty Awesome, too.
We started the summer strong. Playdates, zoo camp, activities, swimming, camping, limited screen time. And then the long hot days of July felt longer and hotter. And the amount of screen time got longer and longer. I don’t feel guilty about that at all. The girls got outside for unstructured play every day. They drew and read and squabbled and created. But I also was pretty relaxed about letting them watch an extra show (or three) more than usual.

IMG_0302When we drove up to Wyoming, we had a 10-hour drive ahead of us. Reception is sketchy at best in the Tetons and Yellowstone so we decided to go the screen-free route. It was mostly good. There were a few moments on the drive when I wondered what we were thinking but overall, the detox was great and the girls didn’t miss their shows. Lesson learned: All bets are off in the summer. Screen time is a savior but it’s also sweet to completely unplug.

Summer Celebrations are the Best
The last week of July is filled with celebrations for our family. Bea’s birthday is three days after our anniversary and Elle’s birthday is three days after that. It’s a chaotic and cake-filled week but I love having a reason to celebrate in the mist of those lazy summer days. The girls still love having a joint birthday party and I love inviting tons of friends for hot dogs, Costco sheet cake, and kids running wild in the backyard. What began as a stressful feeling of poor planning has turned into a week that I look forward to.

Community Abounds
This summer has been a lesson in the value and richness of diverse community. At my low points, I long for a “church home,” where our social circles are at and where we find all we need. Our reality is that we attend services at one church, have a fantastic parent community at another church, and are getting more and more plugged in with our school and neighborhood community. Sometimes this feels incredibly disjointed but a few different moments reminded me that this is an incredible gift. Our girls are growing up with a wide range of experiences, values, beliefs, and worldviews and I am so grateful for that.

There’s always a bittersweet feeling at the end of summer. I can’t believe that alarms are set and we’re back in the school routine. If I learned anything this summer, it’s that seasons pass quickly and as long and tough as some days can be, I know I’ll look back on these little years with fondness and gratefulness that I was able to be part of these daily moments.

What about you? What have you learned this summer?

Untitled designIn case you missed it, I’m raising money for women to join us on the Ruby Woo Pilgrimage. Read about it here and please consider donating – every bit helps!

20 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of Summer

  1. I loved this little glimpse into your life! I too have a 3 year old, so I get where you are with that! Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. I love each season for its time. Summer move too quickly for me this year–as it does every year. The weather and the routine will shift and perhaps pinch a bit. I’m glad a have the rest of the week to call summer. God bless!

  3. Hi Annie!

    What you say about the highs and lows here and sitting around the table is an excellent idea. I do something similar before I go to sleep. I try to find five things that I’m grateful, which I have experienced during the day.

    I agree with you. It’s imperative to take a break from things now and then.

    I hope that you and your family find a church where all of you feel at home 🙂

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

  4. I love the idea of highs and lows. That is something that I will incorporate. I also love the grace you give yourself. It made me stop and ask myself, “why am I giving myself so much grief?” Grace for oneself is a lovely things. Thank you for the encouragement.

  5. You hit the nail on the head! Sometimes it’s hard to decipher between the highs and lows when life is wonderful and busy and difficult all at the same time! Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us!

  6. When it comes to Summer, my routine doesn’t change much. My wife stays at home with our kids so I think she faces many of the same things. However, I would say that this summer we focused on unplugging. When I got home I would shelve the phone and be present with my family. When I needed to check social media or blog I would find another room, but when I’m with them I’m with them.
    I also tried to be more social. We moved to a new town last year and it is so important to build new friendships. We’re trying to make those investments.

  7. My high was San Antonio TX. with my wife and our youngest Daughter. Blessed 5 day weekend we took. The low was send ing them off to Bolivia for weeks to visit Family. High for them, but a low for me. I learned I’m no good alone. A couple hours alone the first day and I was over it. I actually think I got depressed. If it were not for my family I’m willing to bet I would be lost and unfocused.

    1. I always think I’m going to love stretches of alone time more than I actually do… I went up to a convent for a couple days in the spring and I was ready to come home by the end!

  8. Annie, loved hearing about your summer and about Elle’s highs and lows (really her highs). That made me smile and reflect on how we could be more like her. And I agree going unplugged is awesome, but sometimes screen time is longer due to our circumstances and that’s okay too. Diving into community helps model to our kids the importance of engagement and doing life with other people. Great post!

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