Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer To-Done List

Several years ago, I was awaiting a cross-country move and knew I had a giant to-do list but couldn't start checking things off until we got our orders from the Navy.  I did the next best thing  -- complain about it on Facebook -- and a wise friend suggested that I write a list of what I'd done each day, even the small, seemingly insignificant things.  This proved to be brilliant.  It made me feel like I was still accomplishing something even while my hands were tied and probably saved my sanity.

Today I'm doing the same thing.  I want to be a better, more regular blogger, really I do. But there's what I want so badly, and what I have time and energy and focus for.  I didn't update my blog over the summer like I planned, and I've been home in Korea for a full month now and still haven't written.  On the one hand, I feel like a terrible slacker, a poser-writer, a girl with big dreams and no follow-through.  But then again... I did a lot this summer. So here, if I may, is my grand summer "to-done" list:

1) I had an amazing time stateside.  I hope and plan to write more about this, but to keep it short and to the point for now, it felt like summer the way summer should be. I spent time with family. I was actually there for things, starting with my newest nephew's adoption hearing -- the hands-down best reason ever to be in a courtroom.  When you spend almost all your time an ocean away, you feel deeply honored to be present for such an incredible occasion. 

My kids got to spend precious time with their grandparents, doing the things kids should do in the summer, like swimming almost every day, 
riding and driving their grandfather's tractor lawnmower around his farm, 
drinking out of a hose,
 and chasing goats around.  We spent a week with one of my dearest friends who lives out in the country, 
held sparklers on the Fourth and ate the best food, 

drove over to the coast -- two moms with ten kids, outnumbered and exhausted but so very happy. 
We even took the kids to the California State Fair!
 Here's a funny side-story.  We were driving through the California countryside just after our arrival, and Wyatt -- who is super into animals these days, but especially African wild animals -- said, "Oh!  Mom! I just saw some animals!  I think they were rhinoceroses!"  Having just past a herd of cows, I said, "Uh, I don't think so, buddy, I think they were cows."

"No, they were rhinoceroses!" he insisted.  

"Pretty sure they were cows."

Finally, we passed some more, and he said, "Oh wait, you're right.  They're cows."  Yeah!!  Mommy does now a thing or two!

Then Annalee piped up, "Cows!  Neigh-neigh!"

So if nothing else, I'd say I got them out of the city just in the nick of time!

2) I got to take another amazing roadtrip with my family when Matt arrived.  
We drove from San Francisco, through Sacramento, then to Salt Lake City, Moab, and St. George.  And we didn't go to one single national park!  
  We didn't deliberately avoid them, but when we saw what we could do outside in local and state parks and other public places, and we found that there were almost no people there at all!  It was such an amazing time and so perfect for our family.  We spent so much time outdoors, hiking, swimming, running around.  We all came home to Korea feeling refreshed.  


3) I survived August here in Korea.  No, seriously, I'm counting this.  It was muggy and hot, and even though we used our air conditioning as little as possible because of how much electricity costs, I'm pretty sure I will have to sell some organs to pay the bill later this month.  My million dollar view?  It didn't exist in August because we had our black-out curtains and shades pulled down all month trying to escape the infernal heat that radiated from our wall of windows.  I felt like I was in a hot, stuffy box.  We had all our kids sleeping in one bedroom at night, which we called the refugee room because we went there to escape the heat.  It was the smallest bedroom and out of direct sunlight, so it didn't take much to bring it to a near-polar temperature.  

I like to think that it helped bond them.  If nothing else, they grew some character in August.  We all did. 

Just like last year, though, the end of August brought welcome breezes and at least a 30% drop in humidity.  Suddenly I'm happy again, kind to my kids and husband again, cooking again.  And my curtains are open again!  *praise hands*

4) We hit some big milestones this summer.  Matt and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary
 and Jayna turned 18.  

On Monday, she left us to head to university in California.  

It's... so weird.  I don't feel like I know all the answers about marriage or parenting.  I can tell you for 100% sure that we did a whole lot of things wrong.  We were two flawed people that came together in marriage (really young!), and then we had kids starting much earlier than everyone said we should.  I mean, talk about a recipe for disaster.  

But, grace.  

This summer, while we were in Moab we hiked out to Morning Glory Bridge.  
It was a long hike -- about 4.5 miles roundtrip, and it was extremely hot that day, right around100 degrees Fahrenheit. In many ways, it was exactly the kind of trail I love, the kind that truly feels like an adventure and keeps your mind engaged the whole way and your eyes and heart richly rewarded.  
We crossed a stream seven or eight times each direction, and there were places where we had to kind of scrabble over rocks.  We all loved those parts.  But there was so much poison ivy!  We were alternately holding our breath and yelling at the kids, "DO NOT TOUCH THAT!!!"  Disaster, in the form of an insufferably itchy rash, seemed inevitable.  

We got to the bridge, coated in red dust that stuck to us thanks to the copious sweat, and the view was spectacular. 
There was a spring coming from the rocks where we filled our water bottles, and that was maybe the best tasting water I've ever had.  But then we had to go back on the same path, and face all the same problems.  Somehow we managed to avoid all the poison ivy, and once we'd had lunch and some frozen treats and naps, we were as good as new.

From this viewpoint on "the hike", I see the amazing view.  But I remember what it took to get here too.  Sometimes we feel exhausted and messy; sometimes it feels like we can't take another step.  I wonder how we got here, and all I can think is, "There but for the grace go I."  For me, getting to this point doesn't have me thinking I did it all so very right as much as being utterly humbled by the grace -- grace upon grace upon grace -- that was poured out on me and my mistakes, my failures, time and again. 

So that was my summer, in the smallest nutshell!  It was memorable, and sweet, and I wouldn't trade it even for status as the Best Blogger Ever.  But I will try to post more very soon -- no, really, I promise. ;-). 

What's on your "Summer To-Done" list?


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