Mid-Summer’s Hustle and a Podcast for Tudor fans

Long before the summer started, most of July was blissfully empty. June was packed, but July wasn’t. Neither was early August. Ahead of me I had weeks of open days. Nothing was on the calendar. Surely in that time I’d get a little personal writing done and cap it off with some solid napping.

Now we’re a month from the start of school and I’m hustling to finish a stack of freelance work, prepping for a wedding I’m photographing next weekend, and giving menial level of attention to the third novel. I’d really love some free time during the week to goof off.

Oh, and see my children during the day.

And run, and cook dinner sometimes.

Sigh… How is it that summer is almost over? Even my garden is transitioning – the cucumbers are nearly done and the tomatoes are reddening. How did that happen so quickly? From pickles to salsa in the blink of an eye.

While my To Do List is lengthy, the boys are enjoying a loose summer schedule. Video games, Legos, cereal for dinner. (In between those things are chores and getting together with friends.) Jeremy even took a nap yesterday, which happens about once every other year.

While homeschooling allows us to finagle a schedule that works best for us, I try to align our calendar around the co-op’s schedule so there’s some measurable rhythm to the school year. If I had no one to nail me down, there’s no telling when we’d get started. October to February sounds good to me!

Side note – If you’re into podcasts and have an obsessive fascination with the Tudor Dynasty as I do, subscribe to Tudor, I Hardly Know Her (also available on iTunes). It’s hosted by Emily, a fellow Tudor fanatic, her husband Jeff, and their friend Garrett. It is not a boring litany of history but rather a humorous stab at recounting the sordid tales of Henry VIII, his wives, children, and other related monarchs. IT IS NOT FOR KIDS, which should tell you that there’s language and jokes best suited for mature ears and people with a sense of humor.

This series has been a delightful break from my regular politically focused podcasts, because Washington and the Mainstream Media have lost their respective minds.



The Miller Camp for Boys

Miller Camp for Boys

This week marks the start of The Miller Camp for Boys, which is my way of bookmarking two weeks of having house guests from out of town. From August to May, we are The Miller School for Boys, so this makes total sense in my brain.

Our first camper is Jake, the son of our best friends in Chattanooga, folks we’ve known and loved before any of us were married. When we see each other, it’s usually both families getting together, with all for kids in a lump sum – Grace and Jake, Jeremy and Jackson – but this is a house for boys, and while I’d love to take Grace to Ulta and spend a fortune, she’d be terrifically bored the rest of the time.

So Jake is here and the boys have been going non-stop since he arrived last night – playing outside, group video gaming, and board games during down time. They are hardly stopping to eat. We plan to see The Secret Life of Pets and either get to a swimming pool or creek for cooling off. We’ll get pizza one night and I might let them loose with the water hose. Whatever we do, it’s wonderful to have Jake here so we can continue making deposits in this long-distance friendship.

Plus, it’s really fun to walk around saying, “Jake, from State Farm,” to which Jeremy replies, “She sounds hideous.”

Boys of summer

Also, it doesn’t hurt to have another face around the house to split the tension between Jeremy and Jackson. Those two? They could use some space from one another. #brothers

Summer Road Trip 2016

We got home last night from what felt like a long and short family vacation. Long in the car, short with the family. The usual.

Sunset on Friday June 24

This is how it is when you don’t live near family, or when any of your family members live near each other. My side is sprinkled across the country, primarily on the east coast, but still. Seeing my people includes long-distance travel almost every time.

But it’s worth it, you know?

Me and Mom at Hershey Park

Most of our time was spent in Philadelphia with my parents. We went horseback riding, spent an evening at Hershey Park, and Chuck and I were able to spend a whole day alone. We wandered around not knowing what to do with ourselves!

Date night in Philly

We’re home now, happy to be reunited with our home and beds and space. I missed my pets, missed my routine, and missed eating my own home-cooked meals. Vacation is always fun, but so is coming home.

Nearly home from family vacation

These are just a few photos from my phone. Sit tight for the ones from my camera. They are fabulous.

Jennie Creates an Attitude Adjustment

We’re a month into summer and something is wrong. I’m moody, irritated, and wishing electronics didn’t exist. I’ve been moping around the house disappointed, watching trash TV and eating chips from the bag, even though I couldn’t nail down exactly what I’ve been disappointed about.

Only this morning did I realize what’s been bothering me, and I’m ashamed to say it’s nothing new: Simply, expectation met reality. 

This basic equation sums up every level of disappointment one can have. You expect something to be one way, then it turns out another.

For example:

Expectation: By June, I thought I would’ve spent more time working on my novel.
Reality: In the month of May, I only worked on it twice.

Expectation: I thought the boys would spend most of the day outside with neighborhood friends.
Reality: One set of kids is out of town for several weeks, the second set of kids has a series of sports commitments, and the third set of kids spends most days with their grandparents. That leaves Jeremy and Jackson with only each other.  And what happens when two siblings have been around each other so much that they are on each other’s last nerve? Mom becomes a hostage negotiator.

DSC_0103 low res

Expectation: With more free time, I thought I’d be back to running five or six miles, maybe more, by mid-June.
Reality: It’s too damn hot. I ran four miles on the treadmill the other night. It was fine, I guess…

Expectation: Lots of photo sessions, lots of fun!
Reality: My 2009 iMac is starting to run slow and it makes me panic. Uploading and editing photos gives me physical and emotional anxiety. I have no backup plan to replace hardware or programs if this computer chokes and dies tomorrow. Now that I’ve released this negativity into the Internet, I’ve jinxed myself and the computer will for sure die.

Expectation: Lots of freelance work, extra money!
Reality: Writing doesn’t pay well. It will never pay well. And if I’m working on freelance, I’m not working on the novel. Catch 22.

Expectation: Without school work to worry about, the boys will be footloose and fancy free with all the time in the world to play.
Reality: Their default setting is video games. I hate it. Two hours a day still feels like too much time with the screen. It is my least favorite conversation to have with them and we have it every single day. 

See, none of this is innately bad. No one is sick, no one hurt. We are blessed with opportunity, freedom, and choice. ALL GOOD. And yet, I’ve let high expectations override common sense and stir me into discontent.

Which brings me to this morning. I checked myself at the bedside: Life is good, but dang, girl, lower your expectations. Brothers will fight, freelance work will always be tedious, and it will be hot until mid-September. Playing extra video games in the summer will not kill the children. If the computer dies, you cancel photo sessions. Will you be upset? Yes. Will you cry? Probably. Will it be the end of things? No. You aren’t the breadwinner here.

And by God, do the yoga. You always feel better after the yoga.

deepen flow yoga

Which is what I did. I made some phone calls and then did half an hour of yoga (click on the photo above to watch the sequence). Refreshed, I washed my face and emerged from the bedroom ready to start the day with a different attitude. As I type, I am actively trying to push aside the disappointment and focus on the good. THERE IS MUCH GOOD TO FOCUS ON, and if I can continue to dwell in this space, then summer won’t be so bad after all.

Also, more of this please. #PubNight

Night at the pub

To the Atlantic and back

We took a minute and quickly went to Hilton Head.

Splash Jeremy

Splash Jackson

my boys Hilton Head 2015

Taking a walk

If you know us in real life, then you know how crazy our schedule can be. When we have family time, it’s intentional. Most people wouldn’t consider 24 hours at the beach to be worthwhile, but we do.

Almost 15 years
The boys at Hilton Head 2015

They swam until sundown. Why not, right?

Night swimming

Whenever I’m at the beach, I get up at whatever time necessary to see the sunrise.

Peek of sunrise

At that first peek of light, I stand still and watch the day officially begin.

Peek of sunrise

Then the entire space glows orange and everything feels new.

sunrise at Hilton Head 2015

Worth it every time.

Good morning Hilton Head

This poor fella didn’t make it out alive.

Dead crabs

One more snapshot before heading home…

Until next time HH