Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Making the Most of Summer...While It Lasts

All you autumn-lovers out there are probably counting down the days until cooler weather arrives, but I'm over here begging summer not to end. It always seems to go by too fast. As a kid, summer meant freedom: eating as much as I wanted, swimming until I was pruney all over, playing outside all day (and long after the fireflies came out), climbing trees, traipsing around my grandparents' and cousins' farms, and doing pretty much whatever I wanted. Even though I'm an adult now--and a mom, at that!--and all I really want to do these days is go to the bathroom alone, I still feel a sense of freedom during the summertime. Like I somehow have "permission" to put fun before work, because, after all, summer only lasts so long.

Funny enough though, at the same time I'm ready to just let loose, I'm also 10X more motivated to dive into new projects. Maybe it's the extra sunlight that's boosting my energy level, or having something fun to look forward to after the work's done. Regardless, summer is always my favorite season, because I finally get to do all the fun stuff I've been dreaming about all year long. And I feel productive no matter what I'm doing--whether I'm working in the garden, running through the sprinklers with the kids, or just relaxing outside on the front porch swing.

So even though some of you've already started school, it's not too late to make the most of these last few weeks of summer. Go swimming, take a picnic to the park, eat dinner outside...get outdoors and make some memories! To give you some inspiration, here's what we've been up to this summer, along with a few things we're still hoping to squeeze in.

  • Had a garage sale
  • Went to Ben's family reunion
  • Camped with the kids (at the reunion)
  • Put in a garden--our first since living here
It's kinda small...
  • Planted blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries
  • Went to camp with the teenage girls from my church
  • Hiked and swam in the famous Sawtooth Mountains
  • Painted the kitchen cabinets (well, not quite "done"...)
  • Floated the Boise River
  • Threw a sprinkler + splash party for Lydia's first birthday
  • Cleared out and donated all the old and outgrown clothes from our closets
  • Went swimming with friends (a few times)
  • Biked and hiked around Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons outside Jackson Hole, WY
  • Saw the legendary Thousand Springs, an underground river flowing out of a mountain side
  • Hosted my best friend and her daughter for a couple weeks
  • Built a playground for the kids
How long does it take for the orange to fade?
  • Rode a carousel at the park
  • Visited the zoo
  • Spent an evening wading and splashing in the river
  • Roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over our fire pit
  • Played at the splash pad (done, done, done AND DONE!)
  • POPSICLES. Every. Single. Day. 

Still hoping to do:
  • Go camping with just our family--one of my goals this year (September counts?)
  • Have a date night with Ben at the water park (and ride all the slides!)
  • Invite the neighbors over for a BBQ
  • Swim and watch the surfers on the river (yep, you can surf on the river here...Boise's cool like that)
  • Plant grapes
  • Watch the hot air balloon festival
  • Spend a Saturday morning at the Farmer's Market downtown
  • Clean the carpets (We learned the hard way, it's best to do this while the weather's still warm so you don't freeze with the windows open for 2 days straight.)

BONUS! Plans for next summer:
  • Go white water rafting
  • Plant a plum tree and roses
  • Get some chickens (!!!)
  • Paint the house, trim, and garden shed
  • Perk up our back patio (repaint our table, maybe hang some string lights...)
  • Pick fruit at a u-pick farm
  • Go to a concert or movie in the park (when the kids are a little older...)
  • Take the kids fishing
  • Ride the greenbelt trail by the river

What do YOU do in the summertime?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

50 Compliments for Women (That Have Nothing to Do with Appearance)

Ladies (gents, listen up, too!), nothing makes your day like a genuine, heart-felt compliment. And while we women all love to be told how beautiful we are, it's even nicer to know that people appreciate what's on the inside, not just the outside.

I've spent the last several weeks living with other women--an unusual experience for this (sometimes lonely) stay-at-home mom. And they weren't just any women...they were some of the most important women in my life: a week family-reunioning with my sisters- and mother-in-law, 2 weeks catching up with my best friend Jen after 3 years apart, a week camping with the girls from my church and the other women who work with them, and then 2 weeks painting my kitchen cabinets with my mom. (Full disclosure: She did most of the work...I mainly tried to keep the kids from spilling paint and ingesting cabinet hardware.)

One thing I observed over and over was the power that women have to bring out the best in each other. I watched the girls from my church build each other up instead of judging and separating into cliques. I watched the other youth leaders tune in to each girl, cheer her on, and show her how to work and teach the others. Jen helped me see the best in myself and refocus my attention on what matters most...just like a best friend should, she makes me want to be a better person (which, by the way, that's her and me in the picture above). My husband's sisters and mom treat me like one of their own, and they're constantly doing thoughtful things for me (along with everyone else they know). And my mom motivated me to start a project I'd been putting off for months, spending every waking moment of her "vacation" helping me paint and take care of the kids. She never hesitates to go out of her way to help someone. 

There's so much to be appreciated in women other than their appearance, and finding the right words to express that can mean more than you know. It can turn a moment of failure into a moment of success. So in the same spirit as my post on kindness a few months ago, I put together a list of 50 ways to compliment a woman that have everything to do with who she is, and absolutely nothing to do with how she looks.
  1. You inspire me. 
  2. You're so talented!
  3. I really enjoy being around you. 
  4. I look up to you.
  5. You're such a great friend (mom, sister, teacher, etc.)!
  6. You're a natural leader. 
  7. People are drawn to you.
  8. You're thoughtful. 
  9. You're creative. 
  10. You're smart.
  11. I really appreciate your opinion. 
  12. I love how you're always helping others. 
  13. I really like talking to you. 
  14. You're a good listener. 
  15. You always have such good ideas!
  16. I'm lucky to know you.
  17. I'm really glad we met/can get to know each other better.  
  18. You work so hard.
  19. You're strong.
  20. I believe in you.
  21. You've always got things on the ball!
  22. I'd love for you to teach me how you ____.
  23. Being around you makes me want to be a better person.
  24. I trust you.
  25. You'll do the right thing--you always do!
  26. I really admire the way you handled that.
  27. I learn so much from you.
  28. You're a pro.
  29. You'll do great!
  30. I always feel so comfortable around you.
  31. I love that you can be yourself.
  32. You're really making a difference.
  33. You saved the day!
  34. It's so nice to know we can be honest with each other.
  35. You always make things fun!
  36. You're so funny--I love laughing with you!
  37. You're hard core.
  38. You're dependable/You always come through.
  39. You're always there for me.
  40. You make it look easy!
  41. You've got guts.
  42. I love how you never lose sight of what's important.
  43. It's so interesting to hear your story.
  44. I really like how you ____.
  45. You're so savvy.
  46. You've got this.
  47. Everywhere you go, you make things better!
  48. You give such thoughtful gifts.
  49. You're a light.
  50. I love you!