Empty Parks and Busy Carpool Lanes

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This morning I was able to be in a part of an intimate audience and view a delightful play about a misguided girl and the woodland friends who lead her back home to the one true truth.

All while still wearing my comfy clothes and clutching a cup of coffee.

The girl asked if she could take a break after four subjects this morning (her norm these days) and head upstairs to play. This play break ended with a darling performance in her bedroom, using every doll and stuffed animal she owns.

Here is a little secret: Any time my kids ask to play during the school day, I let them (This does not mean play technology). Some things can wait until later. Play always takes precedence.

As they have aged, those requests for play time have diminished somewhat. Their school load is heavier (I feel as if we should light a candle in order to gain favor from the Chemistry gods most days) and their interests varied. However, play time still ranks as incredibly important for me. Since I am boss when it comes to school, play gets the top spot in my book.

This morning the girl orchestrated a fun play that she wrote, designed props for, and executed all on her own. Her brother established a school schedule for the day that will allow him to race outside right at 3:15pm in hopes of catching a neighborhood friend walking home from the bus stop.

I fight to create a schedule in which play is King for my children. I do this because my children also have another thing lurking on the permiters of their days: Extracurriculars.

When the children were little, we slowly entered the world of extracurricular activities. They played in a six week long soccer league. We tried a few classes at our local rec center. There were no long term commitments or extended practice hours. However, by the time my youngest was six years old our slow entry into this world had become a full-on sprint. Both children were signed up for multiple activities and gone for stretches of time at night.

This summer I tapped the breaks on our extracurricular schedules, making everyone be at home in the evenings. The change of pace was nice and my mini van’s mileage appreciated the break.

Recently I came across a thread on a local mom’s support group on Facebook in which a mother was inquiring about how many activities her six year old needed to be involved with after school. The mom was feeling conflicted because her child was tired at night (It is his first year of kindergarten…that will wear anyone out!) and she was run down after working all day.

Several mothers commented that he did not need to do much other than just play and enjoy being six.

However most people commented that kids love activities, kids need something to do after being cooped up at school all day, and (the real kicker here) colleges really look at extracurricular activity involvement when making their enrollment decisions.

Um…excuse me?

I get it. I currently live in a highly competitive suburb. Everyone looks the same, makes the same, sounds the same, has the same advantages….so they feel like they need an edge. Yet when we start discussing the need for kindergarteners to step up their game in regards to activity level in order to get into college (13 years down the road) we have a situation.

When did we decide to bow down to extracurriculars like they hold the key to our children’s future?

Last week as I was driving the minivan all around town, carting the children to and fro activities, I felt a tightness in my chest. I realized I was weary of the driving, the scheduling, the dropping off and the picking up. Despite making more changes this school year when it comes to busy nights, I still feel like the worry that my children are missing out and getting behind. This worry is pushing me towards signing up for all the things and driving to all the practices and events 24/7 because nothing sounds worse than one’s kid “falling behind.”

One thing I notice on these drives: the parks are empty.  I pass many neighborhood and community parks on my afternoon/early evening drives and the parks in our suburb are vacant. Sure it is still summer and temps can rival the surface of the sun in our region, but the parks are void of children. Rather than running and playing and climbing for free, we are forking over hundreds and hundreds of dollars for organized activities that simply leave everyone in the family exhausted.

Why are we all jumping on this crazy bus, shuttling our family members around in the name of being “well-rounded” or “standing out from others.”? When did having one sport turn into being involved with a sport, a hobby, a special interest club, and an afterschool team become the norm?

I have not figured out this dilemma when it comes to our family. In fact, I am about to holler up the stairs (in my sweetest June Cleaver voice, mind you) to tell one kid to get ready for the dance and the other to get ready for karate and student groups at church later. We have to leave early tonight because the minivan’s gas gage is teetering on empty.

If all these activities are supposedly good for college admission, surely all the driving around I do will  boost my resume.

 

No Tired Like Back to School Tired

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I  feel like I could sleep for the rest of the week and still be tired.

We are in the middle of our third week of school. I have been doing this homeschool thing for six years. Prior to that I taught in public education for four years. Way before that I have 13 years of grammar school and six years of high education.

One would think that I would not be surprised by the complete fatigue that hits at the beginning of the school year.

However here I am wondering why my eyes can barely stay open past 8pm and planning that night’s bedtime as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning.

We are off and running on our sixth year of homeschooling. This year we have jazzed things up a bit by adding a second co-op. If one is fun, then two must be a blast, right?

The reason for the addition was to have a structured classical model guiding us each week. Also, the kids needed to take chemistry this year. I pretty much sat through high school chemistry with a confused look on my face so outsourcing this subject was a no-brainer for me.

Everything else is fairly routine around here. The extra cirriculuars are slowly picking back up. I am back to pinning crock pot recipes that I will actually never try. The lazy days of summer are starting to fade from memory as we remind ourselves how we do this how school/life thing.

 

 

Those Summer Nights

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It is currently 104 degrees here.

Sometimes I just want to look around at my fellow suburbanites, all residing in this state that gets insanely hot (and stays that way), and ask, “What are we all doing here?”

That 104 degree temp? Well it will cool down to a brisk 97 by midnight.

I love how magazines and retail stores like to convince me summer nights are the best time to be outdoors. Obviously they have never visited my part of the country in which outdoors in the summer = heat, mosquitos, and more heat.

If I planned a rustic dinner party under the summer stars in my backyard with twinkly lights and boasting a s’mores buffet… no one would come. Not because my friends do not appreciate a lovely feast but because it is so hot that the marshmallows would melt before reaching the fire and the twinkly lights would only add to the heat index.

By this point in the summer, nighttime usually finds us indoors relaxing to the tune of the air conditioner humming along. This summer our nights have been a little bit different than summer nights in the past.

This summer we have been home at night.

In the past and because we homeschool, I have allowed our nights to be consumed with child-centered activities. I spend the evening hours hustling back and forth between various sports and their locales, while attempting to cook supper, feed the family members who happen to be home, and clean the kitchen. Weeknights become a blur of frenzy for us.

This summer we brought it all to a stop.

I told the children we were not doing any nighttime activities. There were no arguments or dramatic sad faces. Rather they were thrilled to be home.

Their days were filled this summer, as they attended a variety of camps and classes as well as spending lots of quality time with friends.

But their nights were at home with their father and me.

We did not do anything extravagant on these evenings. We ate dinner at the table. We played some board games. We watched some television. We just enjoyed home.

Next week, night time activities start to fire up again. School begins on Monday, carrying with it all of our other commitments and obligations. In the meantime, I will soak up these remaining quiet summer nights.

In the Time of Love and Chore Charts

Nothing makes me happier than when all the major retail stores start rolling out the school supplies and the fall clothing.

Sure, I live in an area of the country in which we will not see fall temperatures until approximately November 14th, but I am still Fall’s biggest fan.

As we begin to prep casa de phillips for the 2016-2017 school year (coming at us in ONE WEEK. Summer, where did you go? Oh yeah, I decided to write a book this summer. That is where you went.), I start to evaluate our chore system.

Or our lack of chore system, as things seem to have gone as of late.

chore

I cannot tell you how many chore charts I have crafted over the years. I have had “check off the box” systems, match the cute icon systems, fancy chalkboard systems, and “For the love! Someone just pick up a dirty towel!” systems. No system seems to linger too long and often I wonder why I cannot manage to create a simple chore chart that works for our family.

I have a masters degree.

I paid big money to take courses on Behavior Modification.

Surely my brain could configure a chore chart that works.

This speculation causes me to dive deep into the root of the problem. The problem is not that I have yet to create the perfect system.

The problem is that I have yet to create the expectations.

Often times we set the bar low for our children. I look at their sweet faces and see toddlers rather than the nine and eleven year old standing before me. No longer do they possess chubby little baby hands useful for only grabbing Cheerios. Nope. Those kiddos can WORK and it is time for me to set the expectation for them to do so. I do not have to deem myself Cinderella (pre-glamorous makeover and missing shoe), busting my booty attempting to do all the chores while the children simply do their heart’s desires. It is time to have them earn their keep around the casa.

High expectations move children forward, providing a sense of responsibility and pride in their abilities.

Low expectations fuel a generation of entitlement and a belief that life is served up on a silver platter.

We are all out of silver platters over here, kids. It is time for us all to bust our booties.

How does one establish expectations, especially when one’s children only expect access to Minecraft 12 hours a day and a constant stream of entertainment?

Training

This morning I drug myself out of bed at 4:30am and got myself to the gym. Friday morning’s exercise regimen involves a total body conditioning class taught by a perky instructor who must live on caffeine and puppy hugs. As she cheerfully ran us through a tough workout, she reminded us that our planks (with a froggie burpie combo, mind you. No one should ever combine the two, in my opinion) only improved with training.  Apparently if I do train my body to do planks at any given moment, my body will not complain so much when it is time to hold said postion for two horribly long minutes.

The same theory applies to our children and chores.

When we train them on how to do chores, we provide them with the muscle memory to do those chores on repeat.

When we train them on what is expected of them, they learn to rise to the occasion.

Be Realistic

The expectations we set forth for our children must be realistic. This is a delicate dance between being real about what they can accomplish and setting the bar high enough based on ability.

For example, I have one child who is extremely creative.

Want to know what goes along with extreme creativity?

A trail of paper and glitter and half-completed projects that are always in some sort of work-state.

Keeping her room tidy is my Everest.

However, we work on keeping floors clean and containing her creative space to her desk top.

That desk top might not ever see the light of day while she lives under my roof. However, I am being realistic about the cleaning I expect of her when it comes to her personal space while allowing her spirit to shine.

Clear and Consistent

Remember that perky gym instructor I mentioned?

Every Friday morning she is quite consistent with those elaborate planks.

When we are consistent with our children in regards to chores, they understand that we actually do mean for them to get those chores done. Expectations have to be consistent.

The best way to establish consistent expectations is by setting the example with our own actions.

The Phillips’ Family budget is not set up for us to have a housekeeper come on a regular basis. Therefore the children and I set aside Friday mornings as our cleaning time. This is a consistent time we have established to clean our home. Although some people around here pretend to act shocked when I mention that once again we must pull out the cleaning supplies and get to work, in their little hearts they are expecting it.

Recognize Success

Want to know what warms my little heart?

It makes me feel like I deserve a big gold start for the day when my husband walks through the door at night and proclaims that the house looks nice.

He does not need to know that thirty minutes prior to his arrival lunch crumbs were still on the floor and a science project was scattered through the living room.

When he acknowledges the work I have put forth, I feel like I have won wife of the year.

The same philosophy holds true for our kids.

Recently I read how it is important for our children to know the positive impacts they have on our lives. I have been trying to put praise in tangible terms, rather than muttering a “Great Job” as I fly through my day.

Saying things like “You really blessed Mommy’s day when you unloaded the dishwasher and put the dishes away” recognizes their effort and shows them that said effort mattered.

If we want our children to take an active part in maintaining our homes (and we do, sister!) then we must acknowledge their work and the effect their work has had on our families lives.

Teamwork Mentality

Team sports were never my thing because I am not what one would call “athletic”. (Just ask that perky gym instructor). I did swim competitively growing up and would be on the occasional relay team for meets.

Those relay teams would be their most successful when we would all work together, figuring out the best configuration of swimmers to ensure a positive outcome.

Chores have a purpose. They are the mastermind of adults just wanting to make kids miserable.

When our children understand that as a family we work as a team toward a common goal (Not having the family home featured on Hoarders) they can adopt a team mentality. As mentioned, we do big cleanings on Friday mornings. The kids know that when our cleaning is done, we get to move on to more enjoyable tasks. We work together so we can play together.

 

As you stock up on three-pronged folders with pockets (Bless that requirement.) and search Pinterest for a cute back-to-school Teacher gift, do not feel like the solution of Back to School sanity lies in the perfect chore chart.

The solution is found in the expectations you establish for yourself and your family.

 

 

 

 

Spoken Goals

goalWant to know the secret to accomplishing a hard goal?

Tell someone you are going to accomplish said hard goal.

Example: About seven years ago I decided to grow out my hair and then donate it to Locks of Love. I believe I was inspired by two things:

  1. Ann Curry’s hair donation done live on the Today show.
  2. Lack of sleep due to a small toddler girl at my house who did not value a consistent eight hours of slumber.

I mentioned this goal of growing/chopping of hair to my grandmother. She then proceeded to ask me about it anytime I saw her. I had no choice but to actually grow out my hair and then cut it all off (18 inches donated in the end). Because I told her of my intentions, she held me accountable to my goal.

A few years ago I mentioned to my children that I wanted to write a book. The husband already knew about this dream because I have been toying with the idea since we were first married. Funny thing about kids: they never forget some things you tell them. For instance: They can immediately forget that I mentioned they needed to hang up their laundry for the week.

They will never forget that I causally mentioned we may go get milkshakes or I may write a book sometime in the near future.

Thanks a lot, off-spring.

Because I spoke this dream out loud to my family, I decided I needed to make it a reality.

book

Last summer I messed around a bit, formulating a book idea and crafted bits and pieces of a book proposal. I liked the idea and I loved the writing, but I was not dedicated to carving out the time to make the proposal an actual thing.

This summer that proposal became an actual thing.

Over the past few months the children have watched as I have typed and researched and fretted over a book proposal. They have gone to headshot photo shoots and sat at Staples as I lamented over the weight of paper in which to print said proposal. They have watched a considerable amount of television in order to provide me with the space and time to write. They have stuffed folders and have even picked up their own pens and paper and begun writing themselves (more on that to come).

Two weeks ago they bid me …and the 80 page proposal…farewell as I boarded a plan headed for North Carolina and the She Speaks 2016 conference. Nothing was better for my writer soul than being around 800 other women who share a love of the written word and a heart for Jesus. Nothing was better for my children at that moment than seeing a goal spoken and achieved as they did when I left that Thursday.

The book proposal is showing a bit of promise and I continue working every day towards getting the manuscript complete. The words on those pages come from a space in my heart that is eager to share hope and encouragement with families. The desire to reach the end goal comes from a space to show my children that we can do hard things.

My question to you is what goals have you spoken into the universe and then felt compelled to reach? Perhaps speaking them today, maybe just to this blogging community, is enough to set you on the track to achieving those goals.

****

In case you are following along, finishing a book proposal was part of my “39 in my 39th”. Please know that I put a big fat checkmark next to that one once I typed the final word on my proposal.

Unsubscribing to Summer Guilt

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Dear Pinterest,

Just a quick note to let you know how much I have appreciated all your pins encouraging me to make this the BEST SUMMER EVER for my two children. You have inspired me to initiate random water balloon fights, track summer reading minutes, plan themed dinners, and host summer camp-style playdates for all the neighborhood children. Mason jars were purchased in hopes of catching fireflies and I printed seven different recipes for s’mores. I jotted down a summer schedule back in May one night while I waited on dance class to be over. My Amazon cart was filled work workbooks that promised to ensure no forgetting of math facts or spelling rules would occur between the months of June and August.

Pinterest, you inspired me, filling my brain with images of a summer which would be both magical and productive, educational and relaxing.

However, dear Pinterest, I must be honest as we soak in these final moments of summer break.

There have been no random water balloon fights. The children have read books but we failed to join the summer reading program at the library in time and I just received an email stating the Reading Victory Party is being held next week. Oops. I would love to catch fireflies but I live in the ‘burbs where the sun does not set until after 9:30pm in the summer. Apparently fireflies do not find living in the suburbs to be ideal so we have none to catch. Also, I like my children to go to bed at a decent time so I can hang out with my husband. I guess those mason jars will have to sit vacant on the shelf, waiting for fall and whatever craft you tell me to make then.

There was no cute chart marking off our summer bucket list nor did we set out on one educational field trip.

Pinterest, I am afraid I may have failed Summer 2016.

In spite of these summer failings, my children have participated in a variety of camps in which they learned new experiences. Both took tennis and realized that Texas is way too hot to play tennis in any month other than January. One child attended drama camp and now has every song from the musical “Matilda” memorized. The other took a game design camp and (fingers crossed) learned new skills that he will put to good use one day.

My daughter decided to join the gourmet popsicle revolution and has crafted an assortment of flavored pops while simultaneously writing a popsicle cookbook. My son has talked on the phone to his BFF (who attends another school and lives in another suburb, so time together during the academic year is limited) every day as they develop a new Minecraft server (I love to toss around technical jargon as if I know what it means. All I really know about Minecraft is that I get motion sickness when the children attempt to show me their worlds.)

We joined the Pokémon Go hysteria and I learned that one CAN take her 11 year old son on a million errands without him bemoaning his lot in life the entire time.

There have been days in which claims of boredom have been issued. I reminded my children in our house boredom is cured with weed-pulling and baseboard cleaning. Miraculously they found things to entertain their time. One began writing a novel while the other reconfigured Lego sets.

Despite my best intentions, my children did not need me to curate a magical summer.

They managed to do it all by themselves.

As for today, this day that is a final gasp of summer before school starts in a week, my children have been outside since 7:30am. Their faces are covered in blue popsicle (You gotta stay hydrated) and they keep alternating between the pool and the swing set with a gaggle of neighborhood children. Funny thing is, they will consider this the best summer day ever.

Pinterest, as much as I appreciate your cute ideas on how to plan the perfect summer, I am pretty sure my kids have you beat. Their recipe simply calls for a bit of freedom, whatever kid is available to play, and 12 hours of daylight to run around until exhaustion takes them over at the end of the day.

Sincerely,

A mom who may not have failed at summer this year

 

Things I *Big Puffy Heart* Love

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I love a good list. If someone pens a list about their favorite books, their current fashion must-haves, or curriculum essentials everyone needs to purchase now, I am on board. Seeing what other people are digging at the moment is such a great way to get a tiny glimpse of who they are.

During the (almost) eleven years of writing this blog, I have authored many lists. As I was fleshing out the ideas for this piece, of course “Coffee” topped the list.

Because I always big puffy heart coffee

Then I realized that was likely the number one item on every list I have ever made.

I also found myself in the Starbucks drive through line yesterday morning, realizing that I was getting coffee on my way to have coffee with a friend.

Um…I may have a problem.

I nonchalantly steered the family station wagon out of the line before placing an order, giving myself a little pep talk about how I could indeed carry on without coffee while enroute to get coffee.

(It should be noted that I had been up really late the night before preparing for She Speaks ’16.)

In no particular order, here are some things I am loving right now (with the exception of coffee….because OBVIOUSLY I love coffee.)

School Supplies

Nothing makes me feel more giddy than the big retail stores rolling out school supplies on July 5th. Sure, it feels like they just pulled the scissors and the glue off the shelves to make room for summer essentials, but I still love the rows of fresh, clean school supplies making their debut every year. This year, Wal-Mart has really amped up their supply game. Last week the girl and I purchased a variety of adorable notebooks for mere change.

Pokémon Go

It might seem strange that I am including a video game in my list of things I love. However, I am truly starting to believe that moms of tween boys invented this app (Sorry, Japan.).

I just put the app on my phone this week (FYI: it only works on devices with GPS). The girl has activities all morning so it is just the boy and I hanging until she returns home. Because I am preparing to go out of town for four days without my people, I have had a large amount of errands to run.

The boy’s least favorite thing to do is run errands.

Enter: Pokémon Go.

This (Free!!!) app keeps him entertained and makes errand running fun. Never before has an eleven year old been so anxious to walk around Nordstrom Rack. Plus, it has proven to be great way for us to interact and chat as we drive all over our little suburb.

The beauty of it being on my phone: He only gets access to it at special times.

Uniball Signo Pens

I have taken an unofficial pole and have voted these pens to be the best of all time.

For whatever reason, I cannot keep up with a pen to save my life so I may have to purchase these in bulk. No worries because they are relatively inexpensive (Costco sells mega-packs) and last forever.

The Popcast and Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

I know I have already given a recount of my favorite podcasts. However, I cannot stop listening to old episodes of the Popcast. I have listened to so many lately that I fear I may refer to the hosts as actual people that I know (I do not know them). It should be noted, that I am the girl who once greeted a fellow blogger who I did not know and whose blog I stalked (back in the days when everyone blogged and one could be given a free washing machine without the FTC requiring disclosure statements) as if we were real life friends.

This is likely why she stopped blogging soon after that experience.

Check out “my friends” on the Popcast. You will not be disappointed.

Also, a (real, true) friend and I are going to see the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey when she hits our town next month. The purchasing of these tickets happened via a flurry of text messages while I was attempting to shop and she was watching tickets disappear by the second. I have a secret goal to one day be a guest on the Happy Hour so I am super excited to attend a live taping. This event *may* just be happening the night of the first day of school, but you only live once.

Revival of My Laptop and Keurig

This summer has been the summer of writing for me. Although the blog has not seen a ton of love over the past few months, I have been a writing fool over here at casa de phillips. The first week of June I shipped my kids off to the grandparents and sat at my kitchen table and wrote for hours and hours each day.

That same week both my laptop and my Keurig appeared to be on death’s doorstep. Choosing this summer for these two close personal friends to decide to leave this life was obviously poor timing on their part.

Miraculously both found a will to live and seem to be humming along just fine.

VBS

Can we just take a moment and recognize the spectacular beast that is present-day VBS?

I have dear memories of VBS as a child, with some sweet bible stories, generic Oreos wrapped in a napkin, and a cup of warm Hawaiian Punch.

Today my kid was served a snake made out of a donut cut in half with a licorice tongue and m&m eyes.

Yesterday she feasted on a cupcake bearing the story of creation in its frosting.

Obviously the ways of Oreos and punch have been abandoned.

Vacation Bible Schools are amazing. The amount of work churches put into creating a week filled with fun and Jesus is outstanding. Living in the bible belt, I pass sign after sign in the summer advertising Vacation Bible Schools on every corner. What I tend to forget that behind those signs are teams of people who have worked for months to make a special week for kids in the community. Big kudos to those that take large amounts of their time each summer to make such events happen.

Swimming Laps

Back in the day, I was a competitive swimmer.

I spent hours and hours at the pool, year-round, practicing and competing. Although I was never really good at this sport, being a part of a swim team had a deep, positive impact on me as a kid.

Lately I have decided to toss swimming into my workout mix. I have had some joint pain issues due to the heat so working out in the water seemed like a good option.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I forgot how swimming laps…really swimming with goggles and a cap and a non-mom bathing suit (which slightly freaked my kids out)..is the best work-out ever.

Headshots

About a month ago, I had headshots remade for some writing things I am working on. I do not really have the model gene personality. I can stand and smile or sit and smile. There is not much expression after those two possibilities have been exhausted.

However, a dear friend shot the pictures for me and she was great at encouraging me to just have fun and relax.

Our session inspired her to reach out to other women and encourage them to have their pictures made of JUST them.

Is that not the best idea?

How many pictures do we have of our kids or even of our spouse but we often have very few of JUST our self (unless you are the type that changes her FB profile picture every day. If so…Bless.). You may not need a headshot but I encourage you to hire a photographer or ask a friend to snap some pictures of just you.

 

What are some things you are loving this summer?

The Un-Do List

undolist

Dear Target Dollar Spot,

For the love of my wallet and the balance of my Red Card, please stop creating cute notepads with such headings as “To Do Today” or “Master Plan” written in fancy script. Every time I walk through your doors, such stationary calls my name and I grab one more notepad as I rush to scoop up my Target essentials. Currently there are no less than 20 decorative notepads residing in my home, just waiting for their chance to have my daily to do list scribbled across their pages. Kon Marie told me to get rid of the clutter, yet I keep my notebooks to track my lists of how to rid my home of said clutter. The cycle seems unending. Please help stop the madness.

Sincerely,

A Devoted Shopper

 

Anyone else addicted to purchasing cute notebooks and planners, all in the hopes of being effortlessly organized and on task 24/7?

Please tell me it is not just me.

I am a big fan of the to do list, mainly because if I do not write it down it likely will never happen. The thing about to-do lists is that they can taunt us, despite their gold foil lettering and trendy floral design. They mock us with a visual reminder of ALL THE THINGS we need to accomplish, despite the fact that our day still only has about 12 good hours in which we can actually get something done.

Lately, I have started another form of my daily list. I call this my “Un-do List”. When I find myself focused on trying to get everything done (I am looking at YOU, Closet Under the Stairs! Some day you will be organized!), I realize I need to focus on the things that can simply be undone.

For example, I can leave the following things undone during my day:

  • perfectionism
  • comparison to others
  • nagging of my children
  • feeling like I have to say “yes” to things when I really want to say “no”
  • self-doubt
  • self-consciousness about who and what I am

These things listed above are all things I simply do not need in my day. Listing them (and my lists are quite more specific than the examples above) allows me to release the hold they have on me. It also allows me to tackle my actual to-do list in a manner that is productive and realistic. I encourage you to write out your own un-do list for the week. What are some things you can simply let go of that are weighing you down and hindering your life’s productivity?

I also encourage you to slap that cute little notebook right out of my hand if you happen to pass me in the dollar spot.

Quiet: The Power of Being Still

alone2

There are days when as a mother, I have heard all the words I could possibly hear by 3pm and I am done for the day.

I remember years ago how excited I was when my babies began to talk. Both of them talked early and both of them have been talking non-stop since. I love to hear their thoughts, to know what is important to them, and to listen to the things that make them laugh.

I also love silence.

One lesson we attempt to teach our children is the power of Quiet. We live in a culture that is so incredibly noisy. We can barely exit our cars before we are bombarded with the sounds of our world whenever we venture out from our homes. Stores play constant music, while blaring screens chirp at use from each checkout lane. No longer do sports bars hold the license to display dozens of TVs around their establishments. Rather every restaurant has jumped on board, regardless of theme or type of food served, scattering televisions in the corners and blaring their own music as well.

Our local public pool, which is very near and dear to our hearts, broadcasts “Splash Radio” from opening to close each day.

Sometimes I love this noise. Perhaps I especially love it when Splash Radio kicks in with some 80’s music and I sing loudly, to the chagrin of my children.

Despite the love I have for the occasional hum of society moving along (and the deep relief I feel when we get the doctor’s exam room with the television), I know that my mind needs quiet on a regular basis.

We are attempting to teach our children to respect their own need for quiet. They are part of a generation who only knows a world filled with technology and stimulation. Their little hands want to be doing something constantly, their eyes desire to be looking at something all the time, and their minds feel the need to be entertained 24/7. They get the very loud message that one must have noise to be happy.

Yet we know the constant noise is not good for them.

In our home, we pause daily and have quiet time. This has been in place since my oldest started a nap routine at three months of age. Over the years, nap time has morphed into quiet time. This summer the kids attempted to stage a coup and demanded that quiet time be removed from their day because “no one else has to have quiet time.”

Their coup was unsuccessful and I managed to bite my tongue and avoid saying, “If everyone else jumped off a bridge…”. I simply told them in our house we appreciate quiet and quiet time is a part of that appreciation.

I failed to mention that I am a much happier mother after quiet time because there was no need to point out the obvious in the midst of a rebellion.

We also appreciate quiet when driving. If the radio is on, we have it simply playing soft music. We do chat some in the car but the kids also typically read or just stare out the window. Our family station wagon is outfitted with a DVD player and we have plenty of electronic devices to keep everyone entertained.

However, those things stay off unless we happen to be driving a long distance.

(No, children. Target does not qualify as a “long distance.”)

How do you appreciate quiet in your family? Do you find yourself recharged after a time with no noise?

 

Summer Reads 2016

nature-grass-green-book-medium

We received shocking news last week.

The boy is officially too old for the summer reading program at our local library.

Sigh.

He was actually a bit happy about this because I think the idea of placing a sticker on a theme-oriented cutout marking how many books read loses the appeal as one nears the age of eleven. I, however, am sad because this aging out means two things:

  1. He is getting old. Not cool, kid.
  2. We get less of those “Kids Eat Free” coupons that accompany all reading success during the course of the program. (Super not cool, kid.)
All is not lost because he does get to enjoy the teen reading program, which carries with it the chance to win an iPad mini (Okay…that is kindof cool, kid.)
Our library also has an adult reading program, complete with prizes such as gift cards to local restaurants and attractions. In the past I have won a few of these trinkets. I do believe this was in the early years of the program before many adult library patrons realized they could even enter a contest. These days my competition is a bit more fierce but I am determined to prevail at some point over the next eight weeks.
Reading is a passion for me…especially in the summer. I *heart* a good book list so I thought I would share some of my upcoming summer reads with you.

Glory Over Everything

glory

This is the sequel to the amazing book, The Kitchen House, which I read in a little over 24 hours. It was phenomenal. I cannot wait to tear into the sequel.

Tip: If you are going to read The Kitchen House (and why would you not? Again..amazing.) DO NOT read the premise of Glory Over Everything. It can spoil a bit of the original story.

Here’s to Us

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My family likes to joke about my love for the island of Nantucket, especially because I have never actually visited this little ocean paradise (yet…but next summer I am on my way!). I adore Elin Hilderbrand and the stories she crafts about this tiny little island. Her latest beach reads hits shelves mid-June. I cannot wait. I will drop everything and read this book as soon as it comes out.

The Island House

islandhouse

Remember how I just said I love Nantucket? Well, Nancy Thayer also happens to write about this piece of land. This book was just released yesterday and I am anxiously waiting for my library to call and say my copy is available (because I have had it on hold since February).

The Nest

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This book is on everyone’s “to read” list for the summer. I figure if it is making all the lists than it needs to make mine.

Truly Madly Guilty

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Liane Moriarty is a favorite author of mine. I have loved many of her past works, especially Big Little Lies (which Reese Whiterspoon is turning into a movie.). This comes out at the end of the summer and should be a great read.

The Year We Turned Forty

year40

The title of this hits a bit too close to home but I let it make the list anyway. Amazon reviews for this one are strong and it keeps coming up in my recommendation list.

Okay, Amazon. You win. I will give it a try.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

brave

Again, this is a book making all the lists. I figure I need something deep to balance out all the beach reads. I hear it is this year’s Nightengale (Is that even possible?)

Eligible

eligible

Who does not love a fun spin on Jane Austen? This is yet another title that is popping up on all the “must read” books of Summer 2016.

 

What is on your list for the summer? Do you splurge and buy them all or keep your fingers crossed and hope the local library comes through for you in a time of need?

 

 

 

 

 

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