Ready or Not, It’s Summer!

So here I am, at the beginning of summer vacation.  I’ve been waiting and longing for this moment for the past several weeks.  I usually try hard to stay present and not really count down the days, but the ramped-up pace of the last few weeks of school did have me keeping my eye on this prize.  Something caught me a bit off guard over the weekend though.  I was suddenly hit with this feeling of not being ready for summer.  I was pretty much ready for school to be over.  Though it’s always a little tough and bittersweet to say goodbye to my students, that part I don’t really look forward to, most of the time, I was definitely ready for the busy-ness of the busy season to end.  I certainly don’t want to stretch school out any longer, but all of a sudden I had this mixture of sadness and maybe a little worry because I feel like I’m not quite ready for the clock of summer to start ticking away.  I need to make some plans!  I need a new swim suit! Seriously! How can all the swim suits I want be sold out already?!

OK, I really don’t care all that much about the swim suit, but I was having this weird anxious sort of feeling about summer starting. I was expecting to feel all jumping-in-the-air-clicking-my-heels-together excited like I do at the start of most summers, but that kind of wasn’t the case this year.  I’m quite sure it has to do with a whole host of factors.  A few of which I thought might be worth mentioning here.

One thing is that, endings are hard, even when you’re looking forward to what’s on the other side of the end. This year the end of school brought a few more goodbyes than usual as several close colleagues retired.  I’m often asked, as school is about to finish, about how to handle a child’s sadness and tears about the ending.  A few years ago, I started sharing Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto and directing parents to the part about teaching kids to feel their sadness instead of trying to take it away or brush it under the carpet. It’s hard to end something that was good.  It’s hard to adjust to the fact that you won’t be seeing the same people every day who you are used to seeing.  So I tell the kids that it’s ok to be sad about this. I am.  It’s ok to cry about this.  I did.  And then I remind them of an R-word (we’re big on R-words at our school). I tell them that they are resilient.  They will recover from this sadness and fairly quickly too.  I tell them that their heart can be sad and happy all at the same time, even if it feels very weird, it’s ok.  They’ll learn that this is the way of school (and life) and soon, before they know it,  they’ll be focused on pools and popsicles.  And so I’m telling myself the same thing.  (except I might focus on these grown up pops!  Scroll down for the boozy section.)

Another thing about the start of this summer that brought on some weird feelings for me, is the shift in schedule and that I don’t have all my plans all set. I don’t have a giant trip planned. I don’t even know what I’m doing for the rest of today. It feels like a little bit of a transition to go from the super scheduled and jam-packed days of June to the wide open days of summer.  Now, I know this is not an actual problem. There are people who are sick or hurt and there are huge injustices in the world, those are problems. I know plenty of people really deserve the wide-open days of rest and summer and some people never get them. I am so very grateful for mine.  I’m also very positive that I’ll come up with plenty of things to do and those wide-open days will soon be fun-filled.  I’m just saying, I felt a little uneasy about how my time would play out. I want my time to be well spent. I want this to be a really good summer.  But sometimes I fall into that whole trap of thinking that if I’m not being productive, I’m not spending my time well. And sometimes I get too caught up in planning and being “ready.” But only sometimes. I’m reminding myself of what I really know in my heart, that some of my most well-spent time and treasured memories have been those spent doing what seems like nothing with my family and friends, spontaneous happenings, unexpected meetings and unplanned moments.

I’m at that age where time seems to be going a lot faster.  I just kind of want a little buffer zone right now in between when school ends and summer begins.  Like a pre-summer, for deep breathing and dreaming and plan making. But we don’t get that.  So today I’m using a little lesson that my dear friend Regina taught me.  I can’t stop the clock from ticking, but I can notice this moment, this end sliding into this beginning.  And right here, the whole summer is stretched out before me.  Who knows what wonderful things will happen?!  I’m hoping it’s a season full of family and friends, lots of time outside, wonder and big newness.   As much as I can, I’m going to make sure it is.  I’ll keep you posted.

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I really love this line from the book I’m reading right now. It’s called “Phenomenal” and it was written by Leigh Ann Henion about her explorations of some of the world’s most extraordinary natural places. Her life and my life are quite different, but still…I love being wondrously astounded! I hope you also can’t believe your life in a good way this summer and ten years from now. I wish us all many moments of being wondrously astounded. Happy summer!

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#12 – Family Fun and Games

I’m not gonna tease my dad.  (Again.)  But the man might be addicted to his ipad.  It’s his solitaire app to be exact.  He’s slightly obsessed with beating his own records.  He texts me about it.  But I’m gonna give him a pass on this one.  He just retired.  And after years of hard work to, ya know, send me to college and stuff, I guess he deserves it.  So I won’t give him a hard time if he plays HUNDREDS of games a day.  It’s fine.  I’m not so sure if this is fine though…

That’s my grandmom. On the ipad.  Does she really need to be dragged into his habit? I mean, she’s already a champ at Wii bowling. Can’t that be the extent of her techie gaming? She and I used to play rummy with, uh, actual cards. Isn’t that the way grandmoms are supposed to play?  I had been wanting to get back to it with her.  That’s why I put it on my list.  So when my mom texted me that pic, I knew I had to bump this one up to the top.  I thought maybe my dad could use a little intervention face to face interaction so I invited him along too.  But our rummy plans were foiled when we got to my grandmom’s place.  It was bingo day!  We didn’t want to make her miss that kind of fun or the chance to win some $$$.  Well it’s more like one dollar sign but still, we joined right in!

Bingo!

We didn’t actually play our own boards.  Bingo crowds can be tough.  We weren’t sure if outsiders were allowed so we just helped my grandmom and her ladies with their boards.  Her friends each won a game ($4 total!)  but my grandmom didn’t.  Frowny face.  So I’m thinking I’ll bring a prize on my next visit and we’ll try for rummy then.  Hopefully I can rip Dad away from the screen again…

#5 & #14 – Do Not Mix!

Let’s just review the numbers for a sec. In case you don’t have them memorized.  Don’t worry.  Neither do I.  #5 is about hosting family dinners for no reason at all, or at least not a holiday, and #14 is about trying out new recipes.  Now, if you know my family, er, my dad, you know that these two things do not mix.  For example, here are a few things my dad has been known to say to me when I’m hosting family dinner:  “No green stuff.”  “Don’t you just have regular mustard?” “Why can’t you make normal cookies, like chocolate chip?”  “I don’t wanna smell any weird things cooking with my Thanksgiving dinner.”  But I think the family favorite is, “When you think it’s done, cook it 5 more minutes.”  Yep! Good idea, Dad.  Just burn the flavor right out of it!

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my dad! He’s one of the good guys. He takes care of me. He listens to me. He encourages me. He’s kind. He’s a hard worker.  He’s funny.  I inherited his skinny strong legs.  He just offered to buy me a new bike. (Thanks, Daddy!)  He just doesn’t like to eat the stuff that I like to cook.  So when I made Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken from this lady’s new cookbook, he didn’t eat any. Wouldn’t even try it.  Good thing I had mom, aunt, uncle and godson there!  Good thing I burnt made hamburgers too.

Speaking of godson…we made whipped cream in a jar, thanks to Tracy Shutterbean! I’m thinking she would approve of the jar/plastic container swap for the 4-year-old.  I played a little Twist n Shout (shake it up baby!) and the boy shook!  He only took one lick of dessert as evidenced in the picture below,  buuuuuuut… my dad… took some home! (minus the whipped cream.  “What’s wrong with Cool Whip?”)

Whipping cream in a container…aaaannnnnd…shake it up, baby!

Shake…shake…shake…

This song could work too!

Taste it!

The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake by Molly Wizenberg

Want the dessert recipe?  Go here.  Get this book.