Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Problems and Peonies

At the risk of repeating myself, I knew I was in for some real trouble today when I woke up in cold sweats because I had casually not gone to a single class all semester and tomorrow was finals and I had to race to the Registrar's office to find a handbook on the policy for these situations but they were all out of handbooks so I raced to the bulletin board where all the syllabuses (I can't do "syllabi" when I'm in stone-cold REM sleep. You understand.) but some rude jock had taken them all down and sprayed them with graffiti, rendering them illegible.

(For what it's worth, I don't remember ever visiting the Registrar's office in real life, and there was no such bulletin board.)

But the more pressing question is, WHAT ON EARTH IS MY PROBLEM? And even more compelling, why does my brain, at the very least, not know to switch to a more seasonally appropriate recurring nightmare?

It's not like I'm behind the eight-ball or drowning in a pile of deadlines or tasked with doing anything even vaguely productive right now.


I'm baking muffins, reading on lounge chairs, refereeing arguments, eating Popsicles, getting groceries (< this would actually be a more logical nightmare. Will she ever get out of Kroger? Will she have forgotten her Plus card at check-out again? For the love of all that's holy, will she ever remember to buy Worcestershire sauce? Or learn to pronounce it???)

Mostly, my full-time job is keeping my wits and repeating my mantras and clawing for perspective and patience like my life depends on it.

Mostly, my job is waving it off when my kids decide they are "tired of grapes" and would rather have a cache of perfectly ripened mangoes at their disposal.

Mostly, my job is to listen to hours upon sun-soaked hours of this:

Si: Mom, how much hours is it?
Me: How many hours for what?
Si: No. How. Much. HOURS. Until the thing.
Me: What thing, buddy? You need to give me more than that.
Si: Why do I need to give you something? Just how much hours???
Me: (gives up)

And this:

Si: Listen, Mommy! I'm going to say all the numbers but like they start with F. Fun Foo Free Four...Fenty-fix...Fifty-five! Hey, that worked!...Feighty-feven...
Me: (retreats to a happier place around fixteen)

And this:

Ruby: When do we get to go back to that one place?
Me: I need more info, Rubes.
R: 'member? We went that one time? Never-mind.
Me: Just give me some details! I don't like it when you guys never-mind me. Just try again!
R: Well, we like went there and...like...stayed at the house and played with...like...our friends.
Me: Think about what you're saying and try again (simultaneously dies a small soul-death).
R: We went to that one place and like, I mean, sorry, we went there and played with...(trying so hard not to say "like") our friends?
Me: Who? Or where were we? Describe the place! (Miraculously opts not to pick the battle of ending statements with a question mark because Jesus died, rose again, and sits at the right hand of God.)
R: I don't know! We went on a tube in the water.
Me: Melinda's house at the lake?
R: Yes!
Me: Oh. I don't know when we'll go back.
Si: Wait. Go back where???

Let's just say I catch myself saying things like, "You're going to have to do your best to not be annoying on purpose or we'll all lose our minds."

I'm not proud of it.

Let's just say, hypothetically, that my youngest child padlocked the closet where I keep the broom then LOST THE KEY.

Enough about me, how's your summer going? (She asked, brightly.)

Here's the thing, and I don't want you to throw a cream pie in my face (please actually do throw a cream pie in my face) or egg my car (we might not even notice.) I hate to be too ridiculously optimistic and I suffer daily the impulse to rebrand myself as a staunch alarmist. But all things considered, I'm still landing on this is the good life.

And I say that as a woman who knows.
I say that as a woman caught in a speed trap this afternoon after spending hours in the 90-degree heat at a pool with 3 children and a neighbor girl, a woman issued a ticket by an officer younger than her oldest son who dared to say, "I have to do this, Ma'am. Please watch your speed", a woman who was greeted at home fifteen minutes later by a fine for an unpaid toll which she strategically missed after carefully weighing her options and deciding against the one that would have threatened her very life along with the life of countless other motorists.

Sue me.

Actually, please don't. Not with the streak of bad luck I'm dangling from today.

Because today's mail also brought a notice for a parking ticket incurred last month in an unknown city wherein myself, Cory, and two equally-educated friends stared at a street signage long enough for our eyes to cross and unanimously decided it was a safe public parking space.


I retreated to my room and cried for a solid hour, which did strange things to my heart, and I'm not just referring to the fact that God and I had a come-to-Jesus moment (??) or the fact that Silas crept in and fought back his own tears over my sadness while silently rubbing my back.

>> This just in: The Martin kids now believe a speeding ticket is just one degree removed from death itself.<<

Tomorrow is a new day. We'll pick berries and remember how much we love each other. We'll land softly in a new place of perspective. I'll remember how impossibly wonderful Cory is, how widely I miss the "deserving" mark.


I'll remember the no-brainer-good days, like the one a few weeks ago when we tooled around Oscar Morse Peonies, just a few miles from our front door and in full bloom. The owner's daughter took her time showing us around that afternoon and let Si and Rubes pluck as many petals off the ground to make perfume (eau de Rotting Raccoon Carcass?) I'll remember how, before we left, she opened a giant refrigerator in the garage and handed me two bundled of dormant peonies that bloomed in my kitchen the same afternoon and in my soul for the next two weeks.

As with all of life, this is summer.
We get to live the weird, the wonderful, and even the grim. We get to call it all Good.

PS - Early next week I'm sending out a Super Scoop newsletter where I answer a bunch of questions my email-friends have asked me, and y'all, they went straight for the guts, light, simple fare like, "how do you survive in marriage," and "how do you deal with fear?" and "What do you do when you feel alone?" and, easiest of all, "How do you discern God's will?" Gah, I LOVE MY EMAIL FRIENDS! They got the memo that I hate small-talk and it blesses my murmuring heart. Make sure you've subscribed to the Super Scoop newsletter so you don't miss out!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

In Which I Birthday (mostly) Alone

I have a history of bad luck on decade birthdays, at least if you consider one bad "decade" birthday "a history of bad luck", which I do, and you would, too, if you were on a business trip when you turned 30 and your husband forgot ("I didn't forget, I just didn't say anything about it!" << THESE WORDS ARE A BAD IDEA) and your boss casually informed you that he was basically strong-armed into hiring you against his will.

The upside is, my thirties only improved from such a bleak start.

With my 40th birthday looming and a weird glitch on the calendar, whereby Cory and the kids would have overnight plans and those "plans" included camping along with several of my closest local friends, it all felt doomed.

I mean, I can camp. I can sit in a lawn chair and watch kids swim and while away two entire days with smoke in my hair and marshmallows in my teeth. I've done it before and I'll do it again. It's just somewhat of a departure from how I would ordinarily define "celebration" or "milestone-honoring".

So I made a few plans, and they fell apart. Then I made new ones, but they wobbled. And all the while, my kids were gearing up for their favorite weekend of the entire year, my family lives out-of-state, and I was terrified of two things: 1) Cory feeling any level of guilt over not being around and 2) a surprise "party" of any kind, including the one where the waiters lurch upon you with a sombrero and the whole restaurant sings to you in Spanglish.

Disclosure: I sort of wanted to just roll with it all and be alone for the day, but I was afraid my butt would end up getting bit by a rogue self-esteem/estrogen/introspective/lame-brain bug (it's a thing) and I'd end up crying into Howard's fur on the dingy sofa before the sun had even set.

In the end, Sarah saved the day. (You remember Sarah. She's the one who told me the first day we met that we would be friends then ended up being my roommate through college, my neighbor in early real-adulthood, my no-nonsense, truth-telling friend-to-the-end through the death and resurrection of my marriage, the one who got married on my farm, and the bearer of the entire anthology of 25 years of my crushes, celebrity and otherwise. That Sarah.)

We would spend the morning together, and after that, I'd be on my own. Every time I thought about it, the line from Trampled by Turtles would pop into my head, "You come into the world, alone. And you go out of the world, alone. But in between, it's you and me, oh." I'll be honest, it weirded me out. At first it always seemed to make sense and I do love the song, but a beat later, it seemed like a bad omen of some kind. It made me jittery that maybe I was accidentally predicting my own death, on my 40th birthday.

I kept singing along anyway, because that's what a 40 year old does. She sings along. She doesn't care. She tries to tamp down the neurosis just a touch and reminds herself about God and sovereignty and the fact that TBT songs are pretty powerful, especially live, but yeesh, sister, they're not that powerful.

I woke up on my birthday and thought, "Yep. Today's the day I'm going to put on that weird 80's dress that I bought from the thrift store and never worn. This is it, players. I'm going to present my freshly-40-year-old self to the world as a twenty-something woman circa 1984. Try to stop me. Make me care."

I also woke up feeling like I wanted to go back to sleep a little, because the house had NEVER been quieter. So I did. Then I Voxed Sarah claiming 40th-birthday immunity and showed up 30 minutes late.

Our morning was so stellar. She baked me muffins and I ate two, over conversation with her and her hubs about old-people problems. We thrifted. We early-lunched. (Black and Bleu Salad with Balsamic, if you care.) I subjected her to a task I would only ask of my closest friends: "I'm going to stand here in the alley and can you take like twelve pictures of me in my 80's dress for Instagram?"

{bag by fashionABLE}

Oy, my people deserve so many crowns and sashes and bouquets.

I drove home on a strange, 40th-birthday-or-is-it-really-today? high and then I did the following: *Tried on the two swimsuits I got at the thrift-store for a total of $3. (Make me care. Make me think it's gross or unsanitary. I dare you!)
*Changed into ratty cut-offs
*Washed the dishes and vacuumed the living room (can't relax until this is done)
*Took pics of my thrift-store finds (including some plates because I am clearly afflicted)
*Listened to a podcast about minimalism at the exact same time I pondered where to store more plates
*Bought a can of tangerine San Pellegrino
*Drove to my happy place
*Discovered there was a private wedding about to take place
*Turned around to leave
*Remembered I'm 40 now and I won't be bossed around by a wedding on my birthday
*Turned back around
*Found a remote, secluded spot
*Spread out my blanket
*Read this book (which is slaying me dead, by the way)
*Drank my "healthy pop" (make me care)
*Stared up at the leaves and sky
*Voxed Meg
*Fended off a constant parade of daddy long-legs spiders
*Drove to one of the local taco trucks
*Scarfed down one carnitas and one asada with salsa verde
*Went to a movie. Alone. On a Saturday night/my 40th birthday (in case you'd forgotten)
*SOBBED MY FACE OFF, as in literally, I almost puked and/or choked (and I'd read the book, so I already knew how it ended...)
*Thanked Jesus and the Dental Gods that Sam Claflin didn't "fix" his teeth
*Composed myself
*Drove home
*Ate the tart Sarah had made me (with a whole vanilla bean!)
*Read in bed until my eyes couldn't take another word
*Fell blisfully asleep, a happy, grown-up introvert

Here's what I can tell you from this side. A birthday is just a day, but it also deserves to be honored, and not in the way your friends did, or the way people on TV do, or even in the way you originally thought you might like. Turning 40 might be the perfect time to peel back one more later, and peer inside. What moves you? What settles you? What do you crave? How introverted are you? Make it happen. Own it. If you can't appreciate your quirks, who will?

My life, as it turns out, is not over. So I can't speak to the whole "going out of the world alone" thing. But I can say that moving into my 40's is a pretty fulfilling new start, and heading into its wild blue with myself as my friend felt more than worthy and just the right kind of celebratory.

The world is calling my name. I can hear it.
And I know I'll sing along, but I might change the key because while I get that most women are sopranos, I'm an alto on a good day, and a high tenor before my morning tea and after midnight. I'll sing it in my own way.

Sue me. I'm 40.

*amazon links used

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Book Stack

Sometime back in May I found myself entirely fed up with learning. I was sick to death of taking in information, not to mention processing all of it. As Silas would say, I was feeling "bad in my body and in my head."

I felt like the whole world was bossing me and like I was over-bossing myself, along with everyone in my near proximity.

My gift to myself and the rest of us, I decided, would be a ban on learning for the duration of summer vacation. Shocking no one more than myself, I displayed stunning early follow-through with an eleventh-hour opt-out of Ruby and Silas's tennis lessons. Next, I funneled my momentum toward trashing the Library reading club flier and renewing my vows to all the old recipes languishing in the dusty corners of my culinary canon rather than dog-earing magazines like I've been known to do. Nevermind, homemade Tikka Misala! Ive got no time for your required ingredient scavenger hunts. Not this summer. This summer we will. not. learn. We're plum wore out.

My Summer of No Learning trucked smoothly down the rails for about 16 hours, until I decided to bake my first carrot cake from scratch for my dad and intriguing books kept showing up on my door. (Man across the street: "The Fed left you a package while you were gone." The Fed!)

I took one look at their smooth pages and gleaming covers and said to myself, "Nope."
Short story long, all bets are off.

I'm hopping between books like a spazzed-out toad with all the lily pads to himself.
My brain seems to want to keep learning, and I'm not just saying that because I dreamed (again!) last night that I was back in college, casually forgetting to attend classes for an entire semester.

It's summertime, and not to brag, but we keep accidentally learning thing - the differences between various types of sharks, the best route to my hometown in Ohio, how to wire water-speakers into our TV system, how to reboot Netflix after said water-speaker fiasco, how to cut plastic straws into miniature, pink front-tooth caps, the magic of chia seeds in strawberry jam, and the surest way to move beyond old wounds.

Since we've already ruined the plan, we might as well keep reading all of the books. As it turns out, it can't be helped.

What are you learning this summer?

I'm all ears.

And unfortunately, I still mean that quite literally.

Book Stack Details
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates*
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Laugh With the Moon by Shana Burg*
Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson*
Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall
A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker*
Worth Living by Mary DeMuth
Subversive Jesus by Craig Warren Greenfield
The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen

 * I've read all of these in the past couple of weeks and I am ON A ROLL. I loved all of them!

Saturday, June 11, 2016


What could be better than a weekend in June? I'm here for you, in these (hopefully) lazyish, hammock-swinging, sun-soaking days. These are some of the best links I've been hoarding for a few weeks and I'm sharing! Enjoy, friends.

:: The first time I met Kari Sowers I knew I wanted to meet her a thousand more times. She's a world-changer, a hope-believer, a doer. She inspires me, teaches me, and makes me laugh. I made jam this morning while listening to her newly launched Manifest Collab & Create podcast featuring Jessie McNamara and it was EVERYTHING. This is unique from other podcasts I've listened to, and I dig it in a big way.  Kari ended the show by saying, "Go build something!" and hand-to-heart, it made me want to. Have a listen and check out her site.

:: My long-term internet boo, Nici Holt Cline, launched a new venture called Dig & Co. "We make things. For adventuring, homesteading and artful living." I'm googly-eyed over this camp blanket!!!

:: This adorable, inspiring home tour on A Beautiful Mess got me right in my gingham-patterned ticker. The design is amazing, but you'll want to stick around for Lindsey's heart and grit.

:: I'm ashamed to say I never thought or cared about things like this until I became a mom to diverse kiddos, living in a diverse community. (You might be neither of those things, but you can be way ahead of my game and care anyway!) “An Asian person who is competing against white people, for an audience of white people, has to train for that opportunity like it’s the Olympics,” Ms. Wu said. “An incredibly talented Asian actor might be considered for a leading role maybe once or twice in a lifetime. That’s a highly pressured situation.”

:: Bearing Witness by Becca Stanley
Becca flawlessly writes the tension of loving neighbors with hard lives well. Her words are dignifying, honoring, and humbly inspiring. {This post of hers about being bullied by breast-feeding moms is also excellent.}

:: Seth Haines's writing gives us all permission to stop pretending to have all our crap together.
"This life of faith–how often is it the impetus to  secret away our more damnable acts; how often is it the impetus to shame others into secreting away theirs? Secrets, secrets everywhere, but look at all of our pretties."

:: Evangelicals Need to Sit in a Room and Say Nothing for a Long time by Ed Cyzewski
"People who abide and live by faith don’t need God to constantly poke them in order to prove that he’s real."

:: Your Kids Don't Need a Megachurch by Julia Becker for Christianity Today
In a season where my family feels like outliers in many ways, it's comforting to know there's more than one right way. It's almost uncanny how much this piece reflects our own life. "For our kids, church involves worship, prayer, Bible reading, and people who love them. That’s it. No bells and whistles. No performance or productions. Just the frail and broken body engaging in the healing work of Christ."

:: Why I'm Framing my Ph.D. Above My Changing Table by Ashley Hales for SheLoves Magazine
"It’s the easy thing to get bitter there on the ground. To feel defeated when you’re stuck in a life that pulls you to your end most days. But I am reminded of this beautiful phrase in scripture, 'And yet.'"

:: The actress Amanda Peet shares a sharp, relatable essay on aging and vanity.
When I was scratching [my daughter] Frankie's back at bedtime the other night, I thought she was asleep, but then, out of nowhere, she said, "I'm scared that because you have so many wrinkles it means you're going to die soon." Yep, that makes two of us.
"The 'sacred places' of Christian Culture, of church, of the Bible itself, felt inaccessible to me in my pain. But I found Joseph Arthur’s song 'In The Sun' while watching an episode of Scrubs, and for weeks the words were my best, most honest prayer."

:: In other news, I made this stir-fried cabbage with this Korean grilled chicken and Cory and I are still talking about it. 

Happy Weekend, Homies!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rejoice and Be Sad

This one goes out to all of you with bruised hearts and weary souls. You have a neighbor in me.

I shouldn't be so naive to think Summer might fix everything. It does help, in pockets. It eases us up, throws us a few welcomed curve-balls. The neighborhood rises up from its winter tomb and if I let myself, all I can hear is laughter at the park, squealing at the splash pad. If I try hard enough, my eyes sweep past the undercurrents of wanting.

But I have looked into your eyes, leaned closer to catch your words, strained with worry and doubt.
And you have done the same for me.

We are sad.
We are battered.
Our sails are shredded.

We see the world around us and it gives us the blues. It makes us forget things we know, or teaches us lessons we'd rather ignore. This world, it doesn't just wound us. It is a wound. It's gaping, and we spill out, part of the pain.

This all sounds very dramatic. I'm sorry for that.
I'm staring out my dining room window right now at trees that will never be more vibrant, grass that would not be kept dull - survivors of bitter cold, months of gray, and now, sun-shock and a parade of flip-flopped feet.

I want to notice the green, and I do.

But I can't not-see the last abandoned house that remains on my block, its siding chipped and faded. I wish it away and beg it to stay, a metaphor for most facets of my life. It's a spot of darkness when I'd rather see beauty. It shines a light on reality when I'd rather escape. It reminds me of what's broken, reflects my own poverty. What would it be like if we all got our wish and they bulldozed it, started fresh? Do I really prefer a life spent squinting against the glare of new and better and cleaner and brighter?

The honest truth is, I do not.
The honest truth is, some days I prefer a crumbling foundation. Some days, that is my comfiest home.

Listen - we were made to feel pain. It rends us from ourselves. It tears at our brightness. It smudges our view, hides us away. Pretending to be untouchable is the bitter end of brotherhood.

If I know anything at all on this bright morning, it's that sadness is important, and no one wants to be wrestled from it before it has passed. Maybe we could just stop patting each other's heads and offering emotional lollipops as a reward for smiling when we'd rather worship in a different way. We'd much rather lament, some days, without the salve of gladness. We get to experience the distinct solace of being stowed away in the palm of God's hand.

I see your weariness. I can trace the shape of the weight you're under. I've been there. I'll be there again and, when I am, I know you'll sit across from me, leaning in, reminding me I'm allowed the dignity of actually feeling my life. All of it.

Nothing is forsaken.
Tomorrow is a different day.
All of those things are probably true.

But now and then, for you today and eventually, again, for me, we sit quieter, speak more slowly, allow ourselves the the truth of the moment.

This is the day that the Lord has made.
And rejoicing doesn't always follow the rules.

Friday, June 3, 2016

How We Summer (this week...)

The "Summer" lodged in my childhood memory looks like skinny, tanned legs stretched out on a damp towel. It smells like cut grass and a bushel of peaches. It sounds like the thrum of boredom. It feels like freedom - like getting groceries at 10 pm to escape the heat then lingering in the frozen foods aisle.

I close my eyes and I'm there. It's dusk. The chicken patties are frying in the skillet. There is dirt under my fingernails and chlorine in my hair. The box fan whirs and I scoot closer, talking to its blades as I would a friend, my words bending in the middle, dipping down and zipping out the other side, robotic.

I don't know what my kids will remember, but I know they're busy creating the summer scent of their own youth, the one they'll carry with them, wishing hard that they could somehow recreate it for their own kids.

We're only three days into our break, but this one already feels distinctly different. The air smells like 1986, and honestly, I don't remember it ever feeling this way before.

It's a complex mixture of several different things - my kids are growing, they're more portable and chill than ever before, which makes a huge difference. Sometimes you only have the guts to look hard at the past once you know you've survived it. We lived a long stretch of half-lived summers. There was so much change, too many low-grade anxieties piled up into big ones. We were in lock-down mode, still clawing for fun, but not expecting to reach it, most days.

Well, things are different now.

Over the past year, while they were all at school working, I was working here at home. I wrote a book, did some traveling and speaking, remained engaged in my local community, and kept this little blog trucking. I filled the hours and they filled theirs. Now, something inside me is waking up to adventure and long days lazing. We all need a break. We're cutting ourselves some slack and it already feels pretty dang sweet.

It feels more than a little presumptuous to hop in here and proclaim that this will be "The Best Summer Ever!" or that I've finally figured something out or even that I have a plan. In an attempt to offset any potential "I'm an expert" vibe this post might accidentally emanate, I'll tell you this: Tuesday morning, our first "real" summer vacation morning, one of my kids dropped a bowl of oatmeal on the floor, refused to take responsibility, balked about cleaning it up (mind you, my halo was still basically in place through all of this nonsense), then demanded a new bowl while there was still slime crusting into the cracks of the kitchen floor. So I basically lost it. We were all saved from my true emotions by the men working in our basement, but I threw the bowl in the sink (with some force,) retreated to my bedroom, and "closed" the door. This, all before 9 a.m.

I'm not awesome at schedules and I quit playing like a pre-school teacher when my kids quit pre-school. We roll a bit loose around here, which I know is not for everyone. I have friends who handle summer with more serenity and infinitely more glitter. We are all doing our best, leveraging our own sanity against theirs, hoping the breeze and the sun and all of the ice cream cones align in a way that makes summertime a thing worth remembering. There's no right way, and if there were, I'm confident mine wouldn't be it.

My life as a mom is a constant push and pull between what I would prefer and what they need. The introvert struggle is real right about now.

(I'm on the right, minding my own business, trying to read this super fun book. Silas took note that I was trying to have a quiet moment and rescued me from it by way of a survey on what all I have planted in the yard recently. "How about trees? Any trees?" This is to illustrate how close my boys are to me at all times. Calvin is hardly in any photos because he's always practically sitting on top of me.)

Nevertheless, here's how our Summer is shaping up so far. I retain the right to scrap it all next week if I deem it necessary.

I sleep until 8 or 8:30. Or 9. (cough cough)
Guys, I've put in my time and I HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED! You know I'm not a morning person. Just let me have this one. Two of my kiddos wake up around 7:00 and the other around 8:00. They watch TV every morning because it buys me ^the above^, but we've already had to institute a rule that the TV can't be turned on until 7:30 because there were rumblings of people trying to wake up first just so they could wield control of the remote. (When do tweens start sleeping in? WHEN? I'm asking for myself.)

After I straggle out of bed, we eat. The kids don't need help with this so sometimes they eat before I'm up. I'm basically living the dream over here. And for inquiring minds, I always have a piping hot mug of black tea and then something easy - oatmeal/toast/cereal. Calvin likes to make eggs. Ruby and Silas would eat cereal three meals a day if allowed.

Whenever possible, we enjoy a pretty slow start to our day.

We're trying to get out and exercise a few times a week (says the girl who's in week ONE of vacation). We head to the pond across town somewhere during late morning and do a lap. I walk, they ride bikes.

Lunch is a definite occasion around here, though it's comparable to every other hour of the day because my kids never stop claiming to be hungry. And now, a short story: we all got groceries on Tuesday and I bought: 1 bag of apples, 8 mangoes, a box of cherries, a box of strawberries, a box of blackberries, a bag of nectarines, and a melon. Most of it is gone already (two days later!) and it makes me angsty. But also happy because FRUIT!!! I'm so glad my kids eat it and I'm grateful we have access to it and can afford it.

(Silas and Ruby made this with no help or advice from me. I heard raucous laughing and went out to find this, along with a hatchet and a box of nails in the yard.)

After lunch, Si and Ruby prowl around outside looking forlorn until the neighbors come out and save their emotional lives. When no other options exist, they are also capable of saving each other. They two of them are creative, energetic, and fun. They play well together. Calvin is more "indoorsy" like his mom, but we are trying.

A word about screen time: I LOVE IT.
Not to brag, but my kids might get more of it than yours do. I'm comfortable with that, though I might be biased since I spent untold hours of my youth sitting too close to the black and white television that sat on a little TV tray in the corner. We have never owned a video gaming system and we have just one TV. My kids constantly feel technologically deprived and we don't really have anything "cool", including cable or satellite TV. But they each have a Kindle and they usually get an hour a day on it. If I have work to do, all bets are off and it might be two hours. {Currently, Calvin and Ruby are on their Kindles and Silas is watching Frozen because he has strong, mostly positive feelings about Elsa's braid.}

WARNING: I don't have a rule about reading before screen time.
My logic: Why would I want to send the message that reading is less fun than screens? Why make it seem like a chore when it's totally fun, relaxing, and an awesome way to fill the hours? I have two kids who read every single day and one who would rather eat boogers (literally). We're a work in progress.

Sometime during the day we have work to do, as in actual chores, and during this time of the day everyone hates everything about everything. I don't remember loving chores as a kid, so I try not to sweat it. But man, entitlement and disgruntled attitudes really bum me out. You don't have to be happy about the work, but keep your seething to yourself.

Ice Cream.
Bike Rides.
Yard Work.
Neighboring. (We have spent more time with our neighbors this week than in the past 10 months combined.)

8 for Silas.
8:30-9 for the other two (we have graduated past the early bedtime phase and it makes me sad.)
Midnight for Cory and I because we haven't mastered being adults yet.

I'm currently trying to adjust to have no space whatsoever (this is the first time I've cracked open the laptop in about a week) and we're all trying to find our new groove. Basically, my every-minute feels like a real life photobomb.

But today as I rounded the shoulder of the pond during our super-consistent "exercise time", gratitude washed right over me. I'm so thankful for all of this. It's not normal for a mom to be able to ignore life for two months and hang out with her kids without a care in the world. It's an extreme privilege and I don't just mean that in the respectful, good-mannered, "what a privilege" sort of way. I mean it in the, "most of my neighbors have it so much harder" way.

The sun on my face, wind in my unwashed hair, my kids lapping me on their bikes, high-fiving me as they zoomed past, it was so clear. I don't want to take this for granted.

The months are short and the heat bakes it all permanently into our hearts and cerebral cortexes. Summer is the sweet spot, so we might as well act like it.