Summer vacation is ending today.

I’d love to toss aside all the last-minute to-do’s and just take my family to the beach, but the weather looks stormy.  I guess we’ll have to attend to these to-do’s.

Much has been accomplished this summer.  The house has undergone several changes just in the past few days.  This was necessitated by some significant changes come up this school year!

Families we know were in a pinch with care for their children after school, and after much consideration and prayer, I decided to help them out.  Being that I’m at 15 piano students and counting, my ability to really supervise and interact with these children is very limited, so I have hired a mother’s helper.  So as to provide a space away from the piano teaching area of our living room, it was necessary to commit to finishing off the transition of our basement clothes room.  

Kevin mounted hanging bars on the wall of our upstairs bedroom.  We’d talked about building a closet, but I figured that it might be wise to test out the space before tearing up quite-new carpet and building walls.  Our dream is to expand our upstairs, and while it will probably always stay a dream for financial reasons, if we were to actually do so some day, we probably wouldn’t want out closet where we’re hanging clothes right now.  It’s a smaller space than we were using, but after getting rid of some clothes, we’re making it work.  

To find room for our dressers upstairs was another matter.  I fought against it, but moving little Chad’s crib out became the solution.  My heartstrings were being painfully pulled, but we moved his crib into his big brothers’ bedroom and has slept through the night twice, although taking poor naps each day.  Last night he fell asleep just fine at bedtime, though!  The sweet part of it was how eager and excited biggest-brother Caleb was to welcome Chad into their space.  When he found out that the crib was coming down, complete joy (which I don’t often see in him) shone on his face and his response was very precious.

While our room doesn’t maybe look the nicest (with the layout and hanging clothes on full display), it doesn’t feel overly crowded.  It’s been kind of fun reading in bed and being able to use our master bathroom without worrying about disturbing our little guy.  I’ll be finally moving back into that bathroom which will really reduce traffic to the bathroom the 3 big kids most often use.

This school year has loomed.  I’ve been dreading it.  I can’t “see” how teaching so many lessons will work.  Will Chad cooperate?  Will I get enough time with my own kids?  Will the extra children keep busy, have fun, and be quiet enough?  Will I be able to staff responsible mother’s helpers all year?  I’ll also be watching a baby many school days.  Will I get done what I need to get done with a toddler and a baby underfoot?  Will the baby settle fairly easily into our routines?

Summer is a sweet, simple time.  Kevin’s schedule is so much more flexible, which has allowed me the ability to step away and do things for myself or just by myself.  That may seem so trivial, but in the past I’ve hesitated to take time for such things because of the needs of our young children or his school responsibilities.  The truth is that I LOVED taking time to exercise.  I’ve gotten quite strong in the last half year, and I feel great!  I pray that the effort I’ve expended and the time I’ve taken from being with my family will carry over towards my family this year with all these extra responsibilities.  I pray that I will be efficient and energetic with my tasks!

I’ll be president of our church’s Women Serving Christ group.  Our first meeting is coming up in a couple weeks.  I have things fairly well in place for the first couple meetings of the year, but the second half of the year is going to need a fair bit of time and attention.  I don’t plan ahead well, and I’m hoping that this year forces me to improve in that area.

We never camped this summer.  We didn’t go swimming as often as I’d thought we would.  Did we visit parks enough?  Did we play outside as a family or take enough bike rides?

I hear a quick “no” in my mind to those questions.  In hindsight I could say that we didn’t do enough of those things, but at the same time I don’t think it’s good to ignore the special times we DID have.  There was the late Sunday afternoon when we threw a picnic together and drove half an hour to a little swimming hole.  One family member doesn’t care to swim in that water and makes sure we all know it (every second we’re there), but others enjoyed their time.  Friends joined us, which was special.  There’s also the recent weekend that we packed up for the day, joined my sister’s family for church, had some fun at their house over the lunch hour, and then spent the late afternoon at Lake Michigan. It was chilly, but most of the children had a great time, anyway.

There were Children’s Museums outings–even if just a few.  There were short outings to the park with other moms and friends and a couple as a whole family or just with the kids and me.  There were a few family bike rides.  

No, we never DID camp…but that doesn’t make or break our summer.  THINGS were accomplished.  Olivia’s door is repaired.  It’s not chipped up, dirty white paint anymore.  Our first floor hardwood is all refinished.  The kids’ bedrooms are put back together for the most part, and we’re particularly enjoying the uncluttered nature of the boys’ bedroom, now that we’re not storing toys in there.  We inherited an old school laptop and have found that a wooden TV tray is just fine for a work space in the boys’ room, and now their old table will get used in our former clothes room as a snack/homework space for the extra school friends.

I may have moments of panic where I wish that I could just toss all these new responsibilities aside, but most of the time I’m praying fervently that instead I’ll be looking to God for strength and provision.  I’m reminding myself that God has plans for me (and my family) that I know nothing about other than that He promises to use what’s ahead for our eternal good.  It may not appear to be the easiest year ahead, but that doesn’t mean it will be bad.  

Be with us, Lord, and bless us.  Keep the children safe at recess.  Help them to be caring friends, diligent students, and respectful children.  When you bring them home to me at the end of the day, help us to make the most of our moments together to connect.  Energize me at that point of the day to nurture them.  Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for taking care of us eternally by sending Jesus.  May this knowledge put great joy in our hearts that sustains us through the most difficult moments we face.

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