It’s summer! Mom guilt in 3…2…1..

School is officially over and we are so excited.  I still have a couple of extended days left to work, but we are in full summer mode.  We had ice cream for breakfast yesterday and I came home to a living room full of forts this afternoon.  It’s great to use, “It’s summer vacation” as an excuse for everything.
I got my favorite family magazine in the mail last week and I started to immediately feel anxiety rise up in me.  Here’s some of the articles I read:
“Creativity Challenges”–this summer create a zoo or pyramid out of sheet cake, make a video about Greece, create a custom pair of shoes from fabric paint based on a picture of a tiger.”
Challenge yourself to learn a new language and raise money for refugees!
Collaborate with other parents in the neighborhood to build an obstacle course for kids to travel through like stations!
How about these…
Go to the pool and have no one come home with a 3rd degree burn!
Visit an amusement park or travel with the family and no one get left behind!
So many summers start with good intentions of summer reading programs, tutoring, play dates, visiting museums and educational opportunities.
Not any more.
I’ve set a new goal for our family this year:
Survival of the Funnest.
The first person to survive this summer is me.
Instead of being dead last on the list, I’m taking up for numero uno.
I’m going on dates with my husband.
I’m going to make sure I continue my Bible study time in the morning.
I’m going to take a new exercise class this summer and actually complete a project I want to do!

What’s that darling?
You’re not getting to do something you want?  You sweet faced little terrorist?
Awww…I don’t care.  Go outside and play.
What’s that?  You’re out of Vitamin Water?
That’s terrible!  Go drink out of the hose.
Oh my goodness!  The WiFi is down?!
Read.  A.  Book.  I’m the Librarian for cryin out loud!

I will no longer wear myself ragged to the point of tears worried about whether or not my darling children are entertained.  In summers past I’ve sketched out  schedules and calendars of activities.  Ways to make the summer most memorable:
We will start with Sewing Sunday (pick a sewing project) Music Monday (write a song and play it on homemade musical instruments) Wacky Wednesday (do wacky science experiments) Friend Friday (everyone has a friend over).  It’s usually somewhere between trying to make paint out of corn syrup and losing the tokens for the Summer Reading Program that I lose my marbles and say “screw it.”  Here’s to another summer where I set an unbelievable standard for myself and ruin it all with my bad attitude.
Now before you call CPS on me, I have signed them up for stuff.  Stuff I know they’ll enjoy.  Everyone has plenty of activities: golf lessons, art camp, sports camps, church camp…

It’s going to be great.
I know it’s going to be great because I’m setting myself free to enjoy it, guilt free.  Which sets my kids up to actually enjoy me.
I’m not setting myself and my kids up to a standard or expectation based on what you are posting on social media.  I’m probably going to block some people on Facebook this summer…nothing personal.  They’re just too good for me. 🙂
We are going to stay up late and eat crap whenever we want and not take baths all week because of swimming and we will watch TV all day if we want.
We’re getting free folks.
And I’m pretty freakin excited about it.


Christmas…aaannd that’s a wrap

Family is hard.
Vacationing with family.  Oi vey.
As my dad would say, “I need a pill…”

It’s really not a vacation until you’re eating Cool Ranch Doritos at 9 am.  Or until you have listened to Napoleon Dynamite play on the DVD player for the 7th time.
Or one minute you’re high on love for these people you do life with and the next breath everyone hates each other.

One year mom and I took an 8 year old Max, a 4 year old Reagan and a 4 month old Phoebe to Isle of Palms. Jason was gone to youth camp so mom thought, “why not?!”
On our way home, I was absolutely spent. The vacation was beautiful and restful at times. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments of bliss. But for the most part I was stressed. The boys were wired 440 and were all over the place, the beach was packed, all the while I was trying to keep sand off my nipple so I could breastfeed Phoebe.
A woman saw I was struggling and empathetically said, “You have a beautiful family. I know this is hard, but please appreciate them.”  As my eyes started filling up with tears she pointed to her three grown boys and said, “You’ll survive and soon, you’ll be here.”
I should’ve held more tightly to her words because I would need them on the way home.  We had driven 75 minutes and covered about a mile on the West Virginia Turnpike.  We finally got going when everyone in the van needed something.
I pulled off to the shoulder.
Cars, semis, motorcycles were flying passed me, rocking the van we were in and blowing my hair all over my face.
Max had to pee; run to the passenger side to help him.
Reagan unbuckles his seat belt; run to the driver side to help him.
Phoebe dropped her bottle; run back to the passenger side to help her.
Reagan unbuckles his seatbelt again; run back to the driver side to help him.
On my way back to the passenger side to help Phoebe with her blanket, I tapped on the passenger side window where my mom was sitting and  I motioned for her to roll down her window.  I looked her square in the face and in an eerily exhausted voice, I said, “Mom, I love you.  I love my babies.  But I’m going to step out onto the Turnpike in front of the next coal truck.  Please tell Jason I love him too and take care of my babies.”
Mom had seen this coming.
She looked back at me and said, “Jillian.  Get your ass in the car right now.”
Sometimes you just need that person in your life who keeps you grounded.
Because, well, here we are…

We are still coming down from our high of our Disney cruise.  And quite frankly, I’m still waiting on Ronald and Art, our dinner hosts, to show up and feed me.
Jason ate like he was on death row.
We dressed up like pirates.
The girls swooned over princesses.
We stayed up late.
Reagan danced like he was on Club MTV.
Max conquered fears.
The whole thing feels like a dream.
I’m convinced that there will be a section of Heaven that is a Disney cruise.

You all.
I can’t even.
I literally cried when the ship set sail.
I don’t know if it was the fact that we were on a huge boat, or the amazing energy from the Sail Away party they were having, or me knowing all the incredibly hard work Jason put in to make this trip possible.
Maybe it was all three.
I was overwhelmed.
And so, I cried.

Each morning I snuck out before everyone woke up and did some Bible study and reading time.
Wanna see my spot?
It was here I got an amazing realization.
When we pulled up to the cruise terminal, we saw the majestic Disney cruise liner.  To me, the feat of engineering that it takes to make something that huge to float…it is just beyond me.  But each morning as I looked over the railing as the boat  cut through the ocean waters I realized how incredibly small we are.  In my perspective, this little slice of ocean is so enormous.  But when you put it in comparison with the Earth?  Our ship was just a tiny blip on the screen of humanity.
And God has it ALL in the palm of His hand.
He had our ship, and my house back home, and my sick uncle in Alabama, and a friend’s daughter in Alaska, and a friend’s family in Uganda, and persecuted Christians in the Middle East…
He has it all.
Through every season.
Through every struggle.
In the moments when we are euphoric with love for our family and in  the next when we are convinced we are ALL going to end up on the 5 o’clock news…
In our smallness, He is big.
In our weakness, He is strong.
The good news is we don’t need a passport, or a Disney Key to the World, or any other qualifications to access His love.

I stand in awe of His love for me. 
His beauty, His wonder, His majesty.
What could I have done to deserve such grace?
Offer my hands and my heart to the King of Kings.20151224_100306