When I’m not blogging (and I haven’t been at all this week), life is happening. Here’s a week’s worth of what’s been going on in my world.
This week has been a respite from the emotional chaos that was last week. We kicked off the holiday weekend with our annual attendance at the Cedarburg 4th of July Parade, followed by a fantastic time with Dave’s family at his cousin’s house, another annual tradition. Only, this year, we stayed for the fireworks (best view ever- we could even see the people lighting the fireworks!) and the “after-party,” with gigantic marshmallow s’mores roasted over a bonfire. We didn’t get home until nearly 1:00am. Miraculously, the kids survived and had a great time, without any major repercussions from their sleep deprivation.
Starting Monday, I received a much needed break from my most demanding child while he attended a summer camp each morning with his brother. Originally, he wasn’t signed up for the camp, but my daughter, who was enrolled in another camp with her sister, jumped out of our maple tree in the front yard last Friday and broke her distal radius (her wrist), so Tumbling Camp (yes, really) was over for her before it began. I was left with her and Elijah while the others jumped, danced, and tumbled, or raced remote control cars, for an hour and a half each morning.
We did deviate from our summer schedule a bit, due to the morning camps, although I still required their chores to get done and for Autumn and Elijah to do schoolwork while the others were away. Since they are my home-schooled children- and we are not quite finished with the school year- this has worked out well to help catch them up.
We had afternoon outings nearly every day this week, and they were all wonderful. Tuesday, we met with three other moms and their children at the park, where one of the girls got stuck in a tree (at least she didn’t fall and break her arm), requiring her mother to go home to retrieve a ladder for her to climb down. Anyone else ever have that happen?
Wednesday, after dropping my other children off, Autumn, Elijah and I went strawberry picking for the first and last time this year, since it is the final week for strawberry picking in our parts. The strawberries were small and sweet, and we picked eight pounds of them, which are now all frozen for our enjoyment in the off-season.
After collecting the rest of the kids, we met up at another park with a dear friend visiting from California. She is the joyous, wonderful mother of five children, ages 7 and under! We had a lovely time, catching up, commiserating and encouraging one another as homeschooling moms and wives. She and I are very similar in temperament, so our struggles are also similar, as we strive for consistency and routine in our daily lives.
Near the end of our visit, she shared the wisdom she received from a pioneer homeschooling couple, now in their 70’s: “As long as your children know that they are loved by Jesus and they know you love them, you are doing more for your children than any school can.” Without measurable standards to guide us each day, it is easy to feel like we are floundering, even failing, in our efforts at homeschooling. Balancing our roles as moms, teachers, and homemakers is tricky at best, overwhelming at its worst. We need the Lord to make it through each day, and our children need Him, too.
One way to ensure His involvement in our day is to invite Him into it, through morning prayer, Bible reading, and devotions with our children. This is an area of inconsistency for me; however, after talking to my friend, and later reading an article that mentioned the same key component to better days at home, I am going to make sure we take time as a family to meet with the Lord before rushing into our studies or other activities.
Thursday, I watched my two, older boys walk down the street with their little sister to their respective camps at our nearby church. I allowed them to walk there on their own; it was a step towards trust, responsibility, and independence for my sons, and they did very well. Then, it was time to shop!
Skyler turns four on Sunday, and I took advantage of the rare time apart from her to buy some birthday presents. Her top request: a real dog. Umm, no, I did not buy her one; that is neither in the budget nor in my realm of sanity. On a whim, we did buy an Irish Setter puppy when our oldest son was a baby. I saw the sign- it was right around St. Patrick’s Day- and somehow, my otherwise practical, fiscally responsible husband succumbed to my powers of suggestion. Five hundred dollars later, we had a puppy (with all the trimmings) that we could not keep up with, and after five months, we placed Shiloh with the Irish Setter Rescue, who found the perfect home for him. We learned that we are not pet people from that experience.
However, Skyler is the first child to love an animal so completely that we may, in future years, when she is more responsible, have to give in. There isn’t a dog she doesn’t want to pet or love on. When we drive down the street, she’ll ask to stop because the wants to pet the dog walking on the sidewalk. Oh, that girl!
Since her birthday is approaching, I hope you don’t mind me sharing a bit more about her. A few weeks ago, Skyler taught herself how to pump on the swings (the earliest of all my children). No longer in need of assistance, she pumps her little heart out, swinging as high as she can with complete joy and abandon. It is a beautiful sight, to watch her swing. And yet, my heart aches because she is the last of my children to need a push, only she no longer needs me, and I can’t help but regret the countless times she has asked me to push her on the swings, but I’ve been too busy. I missed out, and my heart feels like it will burst with both sadness and exultation when I watch my youngest child take yet another step towards independence.
Pushing our children on the swings- how often does it feel like just another chore to do? I remember thinking, as the children kept coming, one after another, how wonderful it would be once they could all just swing on their own. They never seem to want us to stop once we start, do they? How often do we feel anxious to get on with more important things, like housework, or Facebook, or that novel we were reading when they called for us? Moms, there’s nothing more pressing than that wonderful time, connecting with your child on the swing, as their face lights up from the sensation of soaring above their small universe. These days will come to an end, and we will never get them back. Embrace each opportunity to share in their small joys.
While we were visiting with my friend and her kiddos, I was able to push her two-year old daughter on the swings and play the same games I once played with Skyler in the spring. Little Rebekah squealed and giggled as I tickled her toes and zoomed in as she swung toward me, hands cupped around my eyes like goggles. It was a bit of redemption after such poignant feelings of loss these past weeks, and when I was done, my Skyler even asked me to push her (she was on one of those big-kid chair swings, where pumping isn’t as easy), adding even more balm to my aching heart as we shared a moment together that I thought was lost forever.
Back to Thursday, though, we found some fun items for Skyler’s birthday, including a Gund, stuffed puppy dog, with the sweetest face and the most adorable over-sized paws. He’s not real, but he’s really cute; I’m hoping she will love him as much as we did when we found him for her. And, frugal moms never overlook Goodwill as a potential treasure trove for presents,especially when your children are too young to notice or care if the package is brand new. We found enough fun things to round out an enjoyable present-opening experience for her.
Here it is, Friday afternoon, and another summer week has passed, although with the temperatures we’ve had in Wisconsin, it has felt more like May than July. We baseball moms have been wearing our early spring attire, layered up and still shivering as we watch our boys finish out their season- just one week of playoffs to go!
How has your week been? Are you also in a season of letting go and letting grow with your children? Let me leave you with a word of encouragement, as we strive to live like Christ before our children; may we be toward them as He is with us: “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” –Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)