Midsummer's Daybook



Outside my window:  Blackberries are about to be black. We should have enough ripe all at one time to have blackberries on homemade vanilla ice cream for Sundaes on Sunday this week. As long as the critters don’t get them. They are securely netted against birds and bunnies. But there’s still the resident groundhog to worry about.


Listening to: Coffee shop noises. Everyone is talking about Pokemon Go. Someone is actually saying that the place to go for it is Skyline Drive. Really? When I go to Skyline Drive, I don’t want to be distracted… Also, so many compelling reasons to Pokemon NO.


Clothing myself in: Capris, tank top, and a sweater. I’m carrying a light sweater everywhere because everywhere is over-air conditioned. Also, tank tops are new to my wardrobe. Once upon a time, when I was a teenager, someone told me my arms were too big for tank tops. Now, I don’t much care. It’s hot and humid outside and freezing inside. Tank tops and light sweaters, for the win.

Thinking and thinking: About my goals. I think I’ve had goal setting all wrong these last few years. It’s mid-July and I’ve just now finished my new year’s Power Sheets. I’d work the process and get stuck and work it again and just be more discouraged. Now, it’s July and I realize that while I do my days, my minutes actually, according to my truest priorities, I set long-range goals that don’t work well with my actual life.

My actual priority is to take good care of my family. My stated goal (among others) is to finish a book I started writing 5 years ago. (That is before I was a mother-in-law, when I had only one kid in college, before I was a grandmother, when I was still nursing—so, basically, a lifetime ago). And every time I look at that goal and others like it--revive my blog, step up my social media game, write another workshop--I feel a distinct sense of failure. That sense is accentuated when I get online and see all the people who achieve goals like that all while mothering and being great wives.

I had an epiphany the other day. If my stated goal at the beginning of this year had been to take my basement from being the dumping ground of the last decade to being a soft place to land and the summer hangout of the neighborhood teenagers, I’d have been a rousing success. If my goal had been to research the heck out of high blood pressure and then cook three meals a day according to the research so as to help my husband knock nearly thirty points off both systolic and diastolic pressure in a month, I’d be patting myself on the back.

If my goals had been to sit at the table for dinner with at least five people every night, to get excellent orthopedic care and physical therapy for sometimes two children at time, to grow blackberries in my backyard, then I’d have rocked my goals. Because that’s what I’ve done with the last seven months.

This tension is not a new one in my life, though I do think I'm seeing it all very differently of late. No doubt, longtime readers are yawning, "Oh, this again..."

Most of those "actual goals completed" are measurably more important than a book or a blog. I know that and I live that. Despite a near desperate attempt, I’ve never figured out how to do the home and family stuff and have a real job, even a from-home, virtual one. Just can’t manage it. Years ago, when I was a super young mom, all I wanted was to be a mother at home. If I’m honest, it’s still my heart’s dearest desire. But back then, moms at home didn’t have the intense pressure they do now to be moms at home and moms of influence online. They didn’t all have cottage industries and super cute coffee dates. It’s all gotten so complicated.




Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: To celebrate having a new plan, a better plan, a plan for my real life and not the one in my over-active imagination. I started a new planner—mid-year! So far, I’m enormously pleased. I’ve had a Day Designer for awhile. The new version has a binder that allows me to move pages around. I’m using it for planning and for journaling and truly, for holding myself accountable to the real goals. But yes, somewhere still lurks the idea that if I work this new plan well enough, some margin will develop whereupon some writing goals will come to fruition. This planner has me putting pen to paper all the time and ensuring that I’m committing to its pages what is of my true priorities. When I force myself to write in all the details that go into the care and feeding of this many people, I see that my time is spent in near constant nurturing and that even though there are no publication numbers to show for it, its is time thoughtfully, purposefully lived.



Creating By Hand:  My friend Nicole is coming to sew this week. We’ve only been planning that for a year…

Learning lessons in: The discouraging effect social media has on me. The news of late is sad, tragic, really. Within moments of each event, people I know have impassioned posts up telling me how to think, even how they assume I already think and why that is wrong. I want to protest their assumptions. I want to ask if I could please have time to learn the whole story before being compelled towards activism, even social media activism. Instead, eyeing the inevitable wordstorm that will come with the nominating conventions and then with the election season, I clicked away. Between the sense of being left out and less than that I mentioned above, and the sense of detachment from people I thought were actual friends, and the constant rancorous cacophony, I knew it was time to click away. It’s just not feeding me anything healthy for me.

Some people can eat pizza. I can’t. Some people can manage social media and change the world for the better all while maintaining staying fit, keeping their homes clean and organized, and educating their children. I can’t. More importantly, some people use social media and feel energized and happy. I feel depleted and beyond sad. 

I do love to blog, though. Love it. So, I’ll be here. And probably on Instagram, because, you know, pictures. If you use my Facebook feed to follow my blog, I encourage you to click the subscribe button just under the title banner above. Or click here. I’ll still notify Facebook when I publish—at least for a little while—but conversation is going to happen here, and only here. This isn’t a religious fast or some sort of scrupulous asceticism. I need to be on Facebook sometimes to check in with groups related to my children and I’m not afraid to go there. I just know it’s not the right place for me to engage beyond the bare minimum, at least not in this season.

Encouraging learning in: finding joy between the covers of a book. With the girls, I’m listening a lot!

On the way to Fredericksburg and back for a baptism, we heard Number the Stars. Just so good. All five us (me and girls from seven to nineteen) were engrossed the whole time and we’re still thinking about it. I heard Sarah listening again yesterday.

Karoline has her leg in a cast this summer and is doing so much sitting around. That translates to The Witches (Blech. I didn’t like it the first time and didn’t like it any better the second time. The girls have been on a bit of a Roald Dahl streak.) and a return to The Mysterious Benedict Society and a happy reprisal of Anne of Green Gables.  All heard this week.

Keeping house:  As soon as my goal shifted, I felt myself relax into chores around here. It’s the same routine and I have the same responsibilities. And they still take all day every day, but now, I don’t feel like I’m fighting them, hoping to get to something else. I’m just doing them and doing them with all my heart.

Crafting in the kitchen: I went too far in the heat the other day, without adequate hydration, and I found myself nursing quite the migraine at dinnertime. Nick took over. He combined 3 cans of garbanzo beans with a jar of Trader Joe’s curry simmer sauce and a can of coconut milk. He added sautéed spinach. He served it over jasmine rice. Really, really good and super easy.

Also, and completely unrelated, the roasted tomatillo salsa happening in my kitchen lately is amazing.


To be fit and happy:  I’m logging at least 15,000 steps a day, loving my FitBit Alta all over again. One thing that is new with the newer FitBits is the reminder to move every hour. Mine is set to remind me at ten minutes before the hour if I haven’t gotten in at least 250 steps that hour. This adds a new dimension of renewed activity all day long. I wonder if the little fire I light every hour will affect metabolism. We shall see. More on how much the Fitbit has made me happier and healthier here and here and here (some of my favorite posts ever).


Three Books Going:

On my Kindle: When Breath Becomes Air. I'm working up the courage to read this one. I struggle with books with cancer, but I want to read it...

On a printed page: Loving My Actual Life. Like Hands-Free Mama and Hands Free Life, this is good encouragement to, well, love your actual life;-). I'd already come up with my own plan before I started reading, and it's about more than just social media/cellphone use. It's always nice to hear another voice speak truth into one's life.

In my earbuds. The House at Riverton. This is a long book, beautifully read in a lovely accent. It’s just the perfect thing for making me want to extend my morning walk by fifteen minutes or more and just keep listening a little longer.

More about THREE BOOKS GOING here

Giving thanks: for sunshine and summertime.  I’m not usually a huge fan of summer. I like the other three seasons better. This year, though, I was glad to see it arrive and eager to embrace the change in rhythm and the change in weather. I’m so loving my mornings, outside before the heat is too much. I love long walks. the trails around my neighborhood are in full bloom and summer is shouting its glory. Also, the sunsets have been ridiculously gorgeous this week. Sunshine and summertime: I’m grateful. Also, now I have a Faith Hill earworm. Not so bad…


Loving the moments: When I get to hold a newborn. I held Ginny’s baby Mae for an hour last weekend. A beautiful, beautiful hour.

Living the Liturgy: I love baptisms. In the last month, I’ve been the grandmother at a baptism and the godmother at another baptism. Every time, that liturgy speaks into the core of my soul.  It is so, so full of joy and hope. And the grace of a summer morning spent holding a sleeping baby while she becomes a new creation in Christ (all while inhaling chrism)? Is there anything sweeter on earth? I think not.

For more on Mabel's breathtakingly beautiful baptism and some of my favorite pictures ever,, visit Ginny. You'll be glad you did.

Planning for the week ahead:  Using that planner to its absolute utmost is a necessity. It’s going to be a challenging stretch around here. My husband will be traveling extensively. (Note to people who might creep here: a big, strong twenty-something man lives here. He stays up almost all night with his bigger, stronger twenty-something friends and his teenage brothers. Don’t mess with us.) Anyway, when Mike travels, it is as you would imagine it to be in a house of seven “kids,” many of whom are teenagers. Actually, how do you imagine that? Sometimes I wonder how distorted my perceptions are because really there is nothing “normal” about the present reality of my life. Everything is rather extreme in a way…