making the most of summer.

It is summer.  School is out.  The air is heavy and warm.  Fireflies are starting to light our yard.  It stays light until late in the day and the sun is up early to greet us.  It is summer.

 

I am not a summer person.  In fact, out of the 4 seasons, it ranks in 4th place — and that’s only because there isn’t a 5th season.  Spring and fall are beautiful in East Tennessee.  It is hard to beat those seasons in this gorgeous part of the country.  I’ve always liked winter as well.  I love snow, I like bundling up and all things cold and associated with it make me happy and snuggly.  I hate being hot.  I hate sweating — which I do a lot of.  I don’t tend to tan, I usually burn.  Mosquitos eat me like I eat chocolate cake.  Summer is just not my season.

 

But it’s funny how having kids really does change everything.  Jack is changing how I feel about summer.  Over the past several years I have realized what a precious time this season is with my boy, and I’m kind of starting to love it.  I’m not a natural at this summer thing, and I’m not a naturally fun person so having a fun, intentional, and adventurous summer is out of my comfort zone and a stretch for me.  But I’m going to do it.  You see, I realized the other day that I only get 18 of these summers with my boy, Lord willing.  And I’m coming up on my 4th summer with him.  How is that even possible??  This realization made me catch my breath and hold back tears a little bit as I thought about how quickly time is passing.  I don’t want summer days with Jack to be wasted.  I want to teach him valuable skills, I want to show him amazing things, I want him to have a spirit for adventure, and I want him to look forward to an exciting time of year where our family shifts our focus into fun and adventure for a season.

summer park picnic

summer fun

 

In order for me to do that I have to set some goals + make some lists [because even if I am going to be adventurous, let’s face it — I’m still type A and need a good list to be adventurous 🙂 ].  So we have made up a family summer adventure list with the goal of crossing each thing off the list.  The first week of summer for us was last week, and it went really well.  I watched my friend’s son while she took care of her other son who was sick.  So we got to have some fun adventures with Jack’s buddy, too.  They had Icees and a picnic at the park to start the week.  Then the next day a Chick-fil-A picnic in Nan and Pops incredible back yard.  Jack has run errands with me and spent time outside blowing bubbles.  The first week of summer was a success!

 

Here is our list:

 

Family Summer Adventure List 2014

1. Get Icees and go swing at Bluegrass

2. Picnic at the park

3. Play in the sprinklers

4. Picnics at Nan and Pops

5. Play out in the backyard at Nan and Pops house

6. 69 cent Icees over and over

7. Anni-Jack-a-birthday week to kick off summer!

8. Celebrate Jack’s 3rd birthday!

9. Celebrate our 5th anniversary!

10. My birthday on Memorial Day this year

11. Go to the mountains

12. Go to the library

13. Go for walks

14. Play bubbles

15. Water gun fight

16. Slip-n-slide

17. 4th of July

18. Catch fireflies

19. Go to the zoo

Go to Dollywood

20. Ride bikes

21. Go to the park

22. Go fishing

23. Go hiking

24. Order pizza

25. Camp in backyard

26. Lay on driveway and watch the stars

27. Find our Gabriel star

28. Visit the cemetery lots

29. Go to Smokies game

30. Go to the beach

31. Go swimming

32. Pick blueberries

33. Make strawberry jam

34. Make blueberry jam

35. Get strawberries from Tidwells

36. Visit Daddy at work

37. Find a special place to serve

38. Go to Kingsport

39. See cows + visit Mamaw’s barns

40. Paint on the driveway

41. Paint on the fence

42. Take the dogs for walks

43. Jack’s birthday party at the farm!

44. Remember and celebrate Gabriel

45. Plant flowers

46. Fix up backyard

47. Grill out lots

48. Eat popsicles

49. Play with chalk outside

50. Rent a canoe

51.  Make homemade popsicles

52.  Swim in blow up pools in our yard

 

 

 

the tree.

Is it just me or did this Christmas season just explode?  Maybe I’ve just missed it in the past, but this year seems to have gone from Thanksgiving, to full Christmas swing in a fast second.  Whew, it’s wearing me out. 

 

But before I got stressed out about the craziness of it all, we had a great weekend after Thanksgiving kicking the Christmas season off on the right foot.  On Saturday we went on a five hour adventure looking for our Christmas tree.  We found a beauty – making it all worth it. 

 

A little about our tradition —  I grew up with artificial Christmas trees thanks to a lot of allergies in our house and my childhood asthma.  Once Tommy and I got married I knew that I wanted our family to start a tradition of getting a real tree every year.  I LOVE this.  I love having something so fresh and alive.  I love the smell.  I love the process of picking it out and bring it home.  Man, it’s the best. 

 

We’ve always had pretty small trees, but we have really tall ceilings in this house, and last year our little tree looked pretty sad in this large-ceilinged room.  So this year we went bigger.  Turns out it looks smaller in the field next to other trees than it does in our living room.  We have a big tree.  But I LOVE it!  It’s magnificent. 

 

tree collage  

 

 

Jack and Lauren Jack and Tommy 

 

 

 Jack picks his tree

 

 

Our tree isn’t decorated yet, but I love the look of just the lights on it for a short while.  Here’s a little look at it and Jack playing with his nativity set. 

lights on tree

 

 

Are you a real tree or a fake tree person?  Got tree traditions?  I want to hear them! 

there’s always something new at the knoxville zoo.

I will probably never forget the song “there’s always something new at the Knoxville zoo.”  I remember it from so many commercials from my childhood.  It’s engrained on this brain, so I sing it to my family now.  They know I’m crazy.

 

We finally took Jack to the zoo.  We have been wanting to forever and finally did it.  We’ll be going back a lot, too- little man loved it.  Although it was pretty obvious that he liked looking at all the kids more than the animals.  Whatever works– it still wore him out.

 

Tommy had to literally hold Jack back from running at every animal.  Kid was excited.

 

It looks here like Tommy is holding Jack up helping him walk but no he’s holding him back from attacking the poor animals.

 

Jack tried to break every petting zoo rule– he ran after the baby chickens, grabbed the horns, pulled on the goats.

 

And after he finished brushing this goat, he used the brush to brush his own hair.  Awesome.  That’s not gross at all.

 

Thankfully he liked washing and drying his hands.  That’s my kind of adventure.

 

The penguins!!!

 

 

 

And a new buddy.

 

 

We had a fun, fun day at the zoo.