Vacation

Forty Ways Not To Lose Summer

Elizabeth Foss posted Forty Ways To Keep Summer From Slipping Away last week and I loved reading her summer goals.  For the last week or so, I've thought about how I want our summer to look, so I decided to follow her lead and write out my own Summer goals for our family and me. 

1.  Even though I can sleep in because school is out, I'll continue to rise at 5:00 am for my coffee and prayer time.  This really is the best time of my day.  A friend asked me recently how I get up so early and I told her not to be too impressed.  I'm wired for early mornings.  In college, when everyone arrived to the library for late night study sessions, I was usually packing my things to go home.  I'd much rather get up at 3 am than stay up until 3 am.  It's weird, I know.

2.  Continue to write every morning from 6 to 7 am.  Work on being detached when I'm interrupted by needy children.

3.  Continue to exercise three to four times a week.  Vary the routine with both exercise DVDs, walking, and running.  Involve the kids as much as possible.  (Side note:  I just started the Jillian Michael's videos.  Wow.)

4.  Read good books.  Our great books club is slated to read The Aeneid this Summer and I have to confess, I'm not at all excited about it.  I realize how uneducated that is to admit, but it's true.  I'm going to have to supplement my reading list with some other books I really want to tackle to keep myself motivated.

5.  Have the kids keep a list of all their Summer reading.  Maybe create a friendly competition and offer a date night with mom and dad to the winner?

6.  Take pictures with either my real camera or my iPhone everyday. 

7.  Take the kids to the swimming pool or the lake at least once a week or more.

8.  Prepare dinner on the grill as much as I can.

9.  Host several outdoor family movie nights.  (We hosted one last summer and invited our friends and it was so much fun.)

10.   Read a few picture books to my little kids everyday.

11.  Institute thirty minutes of required reading everyday.

12.  Blow bubbles and color with sidewalk chalk.

13.  Take a long weekend trip to Florida with my girlfriends.

14.  Teach an iPhone photography class to elementary and middle school students.

15.  Persevere on that writing project.  Don't listen to negative Nellies (also known as my thoughts).  Keep going.  Have confidence.

16.  Blog more.

17.  Hire a babysitter every week and leave the house for five hours by myself.  (This one I've already planned and organized and I'm so happy about it.)

18.  Help my kids make their summer bucket lists.  Try to help them fulfill their goals.

19.  Plan one on one dates with one of my six children once a week.

20.  Ensure everyone hits Confession at least once every two weeks.

21.  Invite kids over to my house and let them play in the hose.

22.  Try not to complain about my messy house.  Try not to get angry about it, either.

23.  Keep most of our time unstructured.

24.  Help John plan a weekend away for himself with one of his college friends.  Don't complain about his impending absence in the few days before he goes.

25.  Plan at least one date night a month and surprise John.

26.  Take the kids to baseball games.

27.  Build a fire and make s'mores outside.

28.  Take the kids berry and peach picking.

29.  Make fruit pies.

30.  Eat watermelon outside.

31.  Plan play dates with my girlfriends.  Let the kids run around like wild minions and come home dirty and worn out.

32.  Make art with my girls.

33.  Let the kids sleep in their tents outside.

34.  Make a day trip to the beach.

35.  Sit in the sun.

36. Go over the finer points of the birds and the bees with Patrick and Meaghan.  I'm not looking forward to this one, but it's necessary.  The older kids--all of a sudden--are in a new season.  WHAT THE HECK???

37.  Take the kids swimming and Deedo's and Papa's pool.

38.  Visit with my sister the Sister.

39.  Hire a swim instructor that will actually teach Christopher and Camille how to swim.  The swim instructor doesn't have to be "nice" but he or she must be effective. The last two years of swim lessons have been a waste.

40.  Go easy on myself.  Relax my standards.  Chill out.  Remind myself everyday the kids are going to be fine.

Anything I'm forgetting?  Share your ideas with me!  I'm all over it!

7 Quick Takes Friday: All The Things I Loved About Our Trip To Mexico

My sister took the photo of John and me on my phone.  It's one of my favs.

1.  The Travel:  Right before my dad drove us to the airport last Thursday, he said, "I looked at your flight schedule.  It's awful.  You have two layovers and you travel all day."

I grinned, patted him sympathetically on the back, and shook my head in disagreement.  He must have forgotten that drinking hot coffee, eating fast food, and sleeping every second I was seated in an airplane seat was vastly easier than running after my six kids.

But I bet he remembered real quick. 

The kids stayed with him.

Thanks, Colonel.

Inaugural vacation cup.  And the choir of angels in heaven sang "Alleluia!"

2.  The Room: This is what it looked like. 

Every day someone came and cleaned it and made my bed.  Someone left me a comfy robe and crisp white slippers to shuffle around in.   When I opened my door, I could hear the Gulf of Mexico.

My view

And at the touch of a button, I could order hot coffee and someone would bring it to me.  I had to keep reminding myself I had not died and gone to heaven.

(Side note:  John and I have been wondering what exactly Patrick digested from the Birds and the Bees talk John gave him.  When my mom showed Patrick the picture of our bedroom, he said, "Isn't that funny?  Well, they are married so it's perfectly OK."  I guess he got the memo, John.)

3.  The Food:  All you can eat, whatever you want to eat, whenever you want to eat it.  I spent the first 24 hours texting my family photos of everything I put in my mouth.  I didn't have to cook a single bit of it and all of it was delicious.

Omelette stations and waffle bars=heaven on earth

4.  The Downtime:  I laid on the beach.  John played volleyball.  We talked.  We laughed.  We indulged in exotic drinks.  (I don't usually drink, but I broke my rule on this trip.) 

John does not--in anyway--draw attention to himself and in daily life, we both are working so hard, we sometimes forget why we like each other. 

I remembered on this trip. 

John is funny (not in an in your face kind of way but in a subtle, pay attention kind of way), he's thoughtful, and he's very generous.

I'd be lost without him.

I don't know if I've ever said this before, but John is a terrific athlete.  He ran track and cross country at BC and he's fast.

My sister introduced me to a drink called the Miami Vice.  I may have had one...or five.

This was before my spa pedicure.  Clearly.

5.  The Family: It was terrific to see John's family and to be able to have full conversations without little kid interruptions.  We don't get to see all the Duggans as much as we'd like, so this trip was a real treat.  All seven of John's siblings possess the goodness I experience in John.  His parents and all the brothers and sisters are good people.

Grandma and Grandpa Duggan

Brothers

John and Aunt Amy

Aunt Mary

Aunt Patrice and Uncle Scot (not married to each other, mind you)

Cousins Victor and Joe...sweetest boys you'll ever meet

Go Joe!

The Fam

6.  Ted and Sarah:  My sister and her husband flew to Mexico to meet us.  We always have fun when we are together but this trip helped me to remember:

1.  Sarah and Ted are hilarious--like quick witted hilarious,

2.  they are a lot of fun (I would recount the various text messages we exchanged throughout the weekend but they are not family friendly because...I have no excuse except I was on vacation and I "cut loose"),

3.   they remind both me and John to chill out (Sarah may have given me a pep talk one night on the patio that went something like this, "You and John are doing a good job.  Don't be too hard on yourself."

4.  I think they love our kids almost as much as we do,

5.  and Sarah will take one for the team when I ask her.

They're cute, huh? 

 I read this post on family last night (read it, Sarah!!!) and I thought of my own siblings and how much the author's words resonated with my own experience. 

We all decided we cannot let years go by before we plan a trip like this again. 

7.  The Wedding:

  It was beautiful.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Looking sharp, John.  Looking sharp.

The beautiful bride

The Duggans

8.  Home:  We might have been at the hotel for twelve hours before John and I started talking about how much the kids would have loved the resort, the food, the beach...

We quickly realized we were pathetic saps and tried to change the subject, but then we gave up trying.  These kids and this chaos is our life.  They give us meaning and purpose.  

Thanks to my mom and dad who watched all of them so we could jaunt around the world.  I owe you! 

Big time.

John brought me home these slippers that reminded him of the ones we wore in the hotel.  "So you wouldn't forget," he said.  I may not take them off.

Tonight is trick or treating!  One of my favorite evenings because...PHOTO OPS!!!  And little kids in pumpkin costumes and...cuteness overload!!! Agh!  I can't stand it!

Have a spooktacular day!

Go see Jen for more!