Emily offers a quarterly link-up to share what we learned in the last season of life. Small or large, quirky or meaningful, it all counts!


Here is my summer list of 10 things I learned in no particular order:


1. Summertime is the best time to repair the foundation of my life.


Having six children of many varying life stages can take its emotional and mental toll. There are so many needs and so much to give! This summer I committed to a season of deep rest and repairing. This included both my health, my home, and personal management. As I am at the beginning of a very full Fall, I am feeling so thankful to my past self for filling the well, learning new systems, and getting the house clean and decluttered.



2. Having a perpetual Netflix TV series makes me so happy. 


Of course there are great series like Parenthood, Gilmore Girls, Downton Abbey, The Office, and Parks and Recreation, but this summer was watching the ever-so-delightful Father Brown and now, The Great British Baking Show. I am a big reader and read a lot of books, but sometimes even that brain-engagement can be too much. Having a lovely series to watch periodically in the evenings gives me rest and space to connect with my husband in a low-key way. We both anticipate and plan for watching new shows, and I am so glad that my old idealistic self stopped rejecting a TV in the bedroom years ago because it’s the best for us! We love escaping at night from the fullness and noise of our home and settling in with a show.



3. Geneologies are fascinating and put me in good company with Jesus.


I got sucked into the vortex of Ancestry.com this summer and spent two full days in a time-warp. I have a lineage of Southern farmers, Native Americans, circuit-riding preachers, prostitutes, English/Scottish, and a murder of a husband thrown in too. I have some cousins who have done extensive geneological work on my mother’s side, and the photos and authentic stories they offered me were like unexpected Christmas gifts. As are all family trees, mine is broken and dysfunctional, full of colorful characters, and I am reminded that when I read Jesus’ geneology, He had the same thing. Our stories are all alike and all of us need Him to enter them.



4. Costco is my new best friend.


I asked many of you on Facebook and Instagram for your favorite products, and you came through! Women are passionate about Costco! I am finding my weekly shopping rhythm there, and love the quality choices of meats, dairy, and non-perishables. I was even motivated to do some freezer cooking, and froze 6 lbs of taco meat, 4 lbs of spaghetti sauce, and 4 quart-size bags of shredded Rotisserie chicken meat for soups, Mexican meals, and casserole-style dishes. I discussed how I meal plan with a bullet journal and try to keep it simple.




5. Social Media Time Blocking helps me stay focused and less distracted. 


I did several Facebook Lives this summer on planning and productivity. Reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done helped me manage my paper, my time, and my daily outlook. I still found myself distracted by my phone. I recently began using a highlighter in my planner to mark of times during the day that I would be phone-free. Some blocks are as small as 15 minutes and larger blocks are 2 hours. It’s easy to be all or nothing with our management of phone usage, but the key is to find sustainable practices that allow for engagement and retreat. Choosing to block off phone times is giving me more control over my social habits and less impulsivity.



6. The Marco Polo app is great at connecting far-away family.


It’s a bit like Voxer with its walkie-talkie messaging system, but it’s so much better because it’s video. My sister and her family live in California, and although we keep up on social media and yearly visits, we miss out on the dailiness of each other’s lives. Enter this app, and now we have an ongoing thread where we can see each other, show off the kids, give each other input, and just be silly. 


7. A total eclipse is 1000 times better than I thought it would be.


We live in the “path of totality” and so the hype on the traffic, tourism, and where to find eclipse glasses inundated my life for months. In the week leading up to the eclipse, I felt OVER it. I wanted it to be done, and was tired of the low-level anxiety of whether or not my young boys would obliterate their retinas. But as with all weather-related events, I got super excited about it the day before, and we dove head-first into all the joy of it on the day of. When we finally passed into total darkness about 2:40ish pm, I was like a giddy little girl jumping around and breathless by the wonder of it all. Thank you to the makers of NASA-approved eclipse glasses for making this tiny moment of life super-cool and unforgettable.



8. Getting school supplies early means great choices + zero crowds.


Every year I procrastinate on buying our supplies, somehow believing that by doing that, it makes summer longer or sweeter. Nope. It only means buying other people’s leftovers, that the aisles are a disorganized mess, and I have to end up shopping at a few different stores. This year I have been determined to wean off adrenaline and to work my lists in timely, proactive ways. My list got bought in July, and August was still spent at the pool!



9. The Wunderlist app is great for sharing shopping lists with Mike.


We text each other things we need and invariably, those items would get lost back in the thread. Now we both use this app and it makes shopping and grabbing last-minute items a breeze. We also share a list of home projects that we both add to regularly, and it notifies the other person when we complete a task. (No more nagging!) We even keep a list of movies or shows to watch together!


10. Older teens make life better.


I didn’t know how happy they would make me, but they do. Celebrating their milestones, laughing together, and getting a peek into their budding identities is worth all of the diaper changes, tantrums, and sleepless nights of long ago. Motherhood can feel like a long slog at times, and when you get a tiny taste of the fruit of investment, it makes the marathoning all worth it.