Things I Learned This Summer

Happy first day of fall! I have mixed feelings about this – I love fall, but we had a really good summer, so it’s hard to see it go!

I’ve been trying to get into the discipline of reflection at the end of each season, spending time looking back on what happened and what I learned.I’ve done it a couple of times in the past, and I really like the practice of it, because it make me more intentional, and it helps me to remember times of growth or discovery from each season.

I have tons of pictures to remember all the great times at the lake, but some of the little lessons learned might slip quietly by if I don’t take the time to pay attention. It doesn’t have to be deep, meaningful stuff, it can be the smallest things that somehow shift my attention or approach to life. Emily Freeman does this for each season, ad I always love reading her list, so here’s what I came up with for my summer:

1) Housework usually takes less time than I think it will.
There are some household tasks I avoid like crazy, because they feel so huge and daunting. But this summer, I tried setting a stop watch on my phone to find out exactly how long the dreaded chores took, and was surprised with the results. The chores were always quicker to do than I thought they’d be. The next time I’d need to tackle the same chore, I knew how much time it would take, and whether or not I could fit it into little pockets of time throughout the day. It has really helped me get more tasks done in a day.

2) I cannot grow brussel sprouts.
I’ve tried a couple of times now, and this is the year I give up! It’s time to stop wasting precious gardening space on something that is simply not working. It gave me a nice sense of freedom to admit it, and move on. There’s wisdom in knowing when to quit!

3) Clipboards make me feel official and productive.
I have an extremely long list of daily stretches, assigned by my physiotherapist and muscle therapist, and it’s hard to get it all done each day. I do them in chunks throughout the day, so I lose track of how far I’ve gotten, or I just run out of steam.This summer, I wrote out the whole list, stuck it in a page protector, and crossed each item off with a whiteboard marker as I went along. It worked very well, except the page was so flimsy, so it was a bit of a pain.

But when I found a clipboard, everything changed. It suddenly made me feel super official, and I got far more done because the whole thing was so visual and intentional.Now I’m trying to figure out what else can be given clipboard duty!😉

4) Settlers of Catan is still a fun game!

We haven’t played that game in years, but this summer, we played a bunch of games with our kids at the cabin and taught them how to play Settlers, and we all had so much fun!Because our kids are each five and a half years apart, it’s been tough to play games together that we can all enjoy.

But this summer, it finally worked! We changed the rules a bit for Everett, or he’d be on a team with Ben, but we figured out how to spend time together in this way, and it felt like such a fun new stage for our family!

5) Use a good pen and a junky notebook.

I’ve never understood my reluctance to use pretty notebooks, until I was reading the book Writing Down the Bones. The author says pretty notebooks make us feel like we have to write perfect, important thoughts. She suggests using a junky notebook so there’s freedom to write down whatever comes to mind, even the rough, ugly stuff.But she also says it’s very important to use a good pen. The ink needs to flow at the right speed, and feel good in the way it writes.

I tried it, and it’s totally true. But now I have this beautiful notebook Ben gave me for Christmas that I didn’t know what to do with it. And then I figured it out – I’ll use it for a gratitude journal, because that’s the one place where my written thoughts are always beautiful enough for a nice notebook! For all other journaling, junky notebook + nice pen!

6) This is the best book I have read in a long time:

Did you read Kisses From Katie? I loved her first book, but this one is even better. She writes about how to trust God even when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to, and how to have hope during times of suffering. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

It is a brave thing to hope, to continue in hope, knowing that God might say yes but that He could say no, and choosing to praise Him anyway….I desire to enter fully into the joy He places before us and I desire to enter wholly into the suffering He places before us because both can be His gifts to us. Both can be made beautiful.

This summer was really wonderful, but there were some hard parts to it, as well. This book was such an amazing reminder to think about facing hard things with the peace and certainty that God will carry us through in the best way possible. And now, we move on to fall! I’m curious to see what new lessons this next season will hold!

What about you? Have you learned anything interesting or tried anything new lately?

Summer Bucket List

I made a summer bucket list with the girls a month ago. They had all kinds of fun ideas for what they’d like to do this summer, but I had only one item to add to the list – family float time at the lake. We used to do this before Everett was born: a hot summer afternoon + something to float on for everyone, and a few hours later, I had my all-time favourite summer memories, every single time.

But it’s been three years since this has happened! We’ve had some great weekends at the cabin since Everett was born, but we’ve never had a HOT weekend! It’s been rainy and on the cooler side every time we’ve gone out there the last two summers, and I was starting to get desperate! How was it possible to miss out for so long on my favourite summer activity??!

We finally got our hot weekend, and our family floated, and now I don’t care what happens for the rest of the summer, I have been satisfied.

We stayed at the lake until Monday so that we could drop Kaylia off at camp, which is five minutes away from my parents’ cabin. It’s her first time going, and we’re all pretty curious how this will go! It’s been awhile since we’ve only had two kids in the house, so Anika and I have a list of chick flicks to get through, and Everett is missing his little playmate, so he’s filling his time with “helping” me, which we all know is outrageously helpful. Although, he did empty the whole cooler when we got back from the cabin, which was legitimately helpful, so maybe it will turn out okay!

I hope your week is off to a wonderful start!



Beginning of Summer

I love the beginnings of things – the first day on vacation, first thing in the morning, first page in a journal. You just never know where things are going to go, and I enjoy the anticipation. I’m not as good at squeezing out the last drops. I guess I keep jumping ahead, and start thinking about the next thing too soon, which is great for having motivation to start something new, but not so great for staying in the moment.

End of summer and I have some work to do. But beginning of summer? We get along great. I love the promise of great things to come, the long stretch of beautiful days before us.

Speaking of anticipating things, next week is my birthday, and I’ll be doing my usual “Birthday Favorites” giveaway – I share my favorite finds of the year, and anyone who shares theirs in the comment section over the next two weeks is entered into a draw. I’ve heard such great tips and things to try from all of you in the past, and I’m super excited to get started!


Last Weekend of the Summer

This last weekend, we felt the moment when summer turned into fall.

We were at the beach and the sun was shining, but we could feel it coming – the air smelled like fall, the yellow leaves were peeking out, and we knew we were near the end.

The sun went behind a cloud and never came back.

The rain started later that evening, and the rest of the weekend was cool and cloudy, making me crave naps, books, and movies inside. Which is very nice, too, but I’m so thankful we got in one more beautiful afternoon!

It was only 13 degrees the morning we left, but my dad wanted to go for a ski. He’s been waiting hard for this! He broke both his legs in a car accident last winter, and has been going for physiotherapy for months. He finally got the go ahead for water skiing, and I’m so glad I got to be there to see it! I felt so proud of him. Life has changed a lot for him since his accident, but he’s never complained, and worked hard to push all the limits. I’m so happy to see him enjoying the things he loves once more! I asked him if it was okay to share this, and he said the part he likes to talk about is God’s ability to do miracles, and bring about healing, which is so true! It’s amazing to have days like this when we can celebrate how far God has brought him – I think He was smiling as my dad zipped around the lake.:)

It was a great way to end the summer! What did you do with your weekend?



Contemplating Summer

My best moments of the weekend were spent on a blanket. We had a picnic at the park on Saturday, and on Sunday, I napped under the shade of the trees in our backyard. I love you, Summer.

EverettpicnicBen and EverettKaylia


Kendra & EverettEllen DeGenres says, “August is like the Sunday of summer.”

I love the idea of this, but I think our family spends our Sundays differently from Ellen. To me, July feels slow and lazy, like Sundays at our house. People go on vacation, and it feels like this beautiful season will last forever. In August, it’s like everyone suddenly realizes, “Whoa, summer is going by crazy fast! We need to fit everything in before September!” And then there’s this frantic flurry of super fun summer activities, but not slow and relaxing, like a Sunday is at our house.

As I lay on the blanket under the trees yesterday, I thought about how August is more like a long weekend Monday – still part of the weekend, but usually busy with all the things that need to get done before entering a busy week, the gift of an extra day to catch up.

And that’s okay. I feel the pull towards normal life and normal schedules. I will take the gift of August – a chance to prepare for what’s ahead, but still part of summer. We see you coming, September, but you’re far enough away that there’s still time for lying in the grass, enjoying the breeze….

What day of the week is August like for you?

Summer, So Far

On my to-do list today: do a quick blog post before we zip off to the cabin to celebrate my birthday, and drop Anika off at camp. I’m super behind with getting photos off my camera and editing them, so here’s a bunch of things we’re up to so far this summer:

EverettThis little guy is into everything he can reach. I can’t even imagine how much life will change once he starts crawling!!

kidsOh, so much love, all in one picture! I have absolutely no idea what I did with all my time before I had three kids…. Pure craziness/wonderfulness.

outsideMy favorite time to go outside is in the evening after supper. The sun scorches our backyard all day, but in the evening, it’s just beautiful. The girls swing, we admire our growing vegetables, water our plants, and laugh at Everett’s reaction to the feeling of grass on his feet.:)


massageWe keep our rolling pin in the living room now. My massage therapist told us about this trick, and our calves will never be the same! It is fantastic on the neck muscles, too. Favorite moment of today: the girls came home from playing “spa” with the neighbor kids, and Anika announced that she’d requested a rolling pin, and given everybody a massage!

And now it’s time for me to go pack! Have a great weekend!

Weekend Favorites: At the Lake

I am not a spontaneous person. I like to have everything planned out well in advance. But every once in awhile, things will just suddenly drop into place, and I’ll suddenly realize that spontaneity takes all the stress out of things – if I don’t know about it ahead of time, there’s no time to get stressed! Just rush right in.

That was this weekend.

We had planned to go to my parents’ cabin with them and two of my aunts, but I got sick on Thursday, and the mountains of dirty laundry surrounding me didn’t help me feel any better. Packing for all five of us for the weekend felt extremely overwhelming at that point, so we said we weren’t going.

On Saturday, my mom texted to say that the aunts had brought loads of food, hoping we might still come, and she asked if there was any chance I was feeling better, and we might consider going to the cabin after all, to help eat.

I still wasn’t feeling great, but the laundry was now clean, and lying around at the cabin or lying around at home wouldn’t make much difference, but at least I wouldn’t have to cook at the cabin!

So we threw our stuff together, and got ready to leave in two hours.

cabinThe food was great, and it was good to spend time with family, but Everett’s night was horrendous, and at 4am, I really thought we’d made a huge mistake.

Sunday was so beautiful, however, that in the end, both Ben and I were able to overlook the awful night, and agreed that the spontaneous decision turned out to be a good one.;)

cabinMy highlight was Everett’s first boat ride. I was very curious how it would go – when Anika was a baby, the lifejacket made her scream, and she kept on screaming until the boat started moving. Kaylia, on the other hand, started screaming as soon as the boat started moving, and would wail through every ride until we finally got her used to it.

But Everett decided to show them how it’s done.

EverettHe was totally cool and calm throughout the whole thing. Ben’s reeeeeally hoping he’ll act the same way about waterskiing, since the girls refuse to try it.

AnikaKaylia, like Pocahontas, showed us a thing or two about painting with all the colors of the wind….

KayliaKayliaKayliaShe’s obviously gotten over her fear of boats.

EverettAnd Everett was so happy, you’d never guess he had the worst night of his sleeping career.

EverettAfter a beautiful day of reading, eating, and napping, we headed home.

drivingAnyone else feel like the better the weekend, the harder the Monday?! It’s a bit hard to transition from all that to school and dirty dishes!


Weekend Favorites: Photos in the Yellow Flowers

For the past month, I’ve often driven by a huge patch of yellow flowers, growing in a ditch just outside of town. It was one of my summer goals to take photos of our girls in those yellow flowers.

In my mind, it would be super fun and memorable – sun shining, the girls surrounded by waist-high flowers, laughing together as the wind tossed their hair, and me, leisurely snapping dreamy photos….

On Saturday evening, I shared my summer photo goal with Ben, he agreed to help make it happen, and we drove out of town in search of yellow flowers.

Except it didn’t happen at all the way I pictured it, which isn’t really surprising.

The flowers (and all the other crazy weeds in the ditch) were almost six feet tall! The ground was very sloped and uneven, and Ben seemed fairly stressed about me wiping out and falling into the river. The girls were fighting, and the beautiful yellow flowers were so high above their heads, I could barely get any in my shots!

But I got my pictures, completed one of my summer goals, got some smiles out of the girls, and nobody fell in the river, so we’ll call it a success!;)

flowersA & KAnika



A & K flowersAny summer goals you can quickly reach before fall stops you?!

Redeem Summer

My sweet hubby is finally back to his usual self, after his crazy allergic reaction two weeks ago. THANK GOODNESS – I don’t think I could take much more of him looking at me with those puffy, red eyes! He looked so uncomfortable, but he was awesome about everything. He would just silently scratch away, suffering quietly. We are so different that way – somehow, when I’m the one who’s sick, I feel the need to provide hourly updates, so he’ll know exactly how I’m doing all day long. Ben would rather keep it a secret when he’s sick. He’s had to be a little more open about it this time, seeing as you can’t really hide fuschia skin…

So he’s good to go, but in the meantime…we’ve kinda missed summer. We had to cancel our vacation plans, and when my mother-in-law asked me the other day if we’ve been using our deck a lot, I looked at her blankly, and thought, “Deck? Have we used our deck? I haven’t been out there in ages!! Why haven’t we used our deck??!”

Then I realized, it’s because we’ve been in survival mode for three weeks, which hasn’t been very conducive to lounging around on the deck, relaxing with a cold drink.

And I felt sad, because fall is pretty much here, and while I’m sure it will be awesome, I’m feeling like we missed out on some really great parts of summer.

I was sharing these thoughts with a friend this week, and she prayed for me – she asked God to “redeem summer”. That stuck with me.

I thought about it as I went home, and all the next day, and then I looked up the definition of redemption.

Some definitions for the word are not helpful, in this situation – “buy back, rescue”. We can’t get a do-over. It’s done, and it is what it is.

But redemption can also mean atonement, which means “to make amends, or compensate for a wrong”.

I would like to make amends with summer!


Because you know what? Even if summer didn’t go the way I hoped it would, and it wasn’t the most fun we’ve ever had, it was good. Really good. There were some hard lessons I needed to learn, some hard work was done, and we made it through some hard experiences.

But it was good.

It reminds me of a quote I shared a few weeks ago:

The key to happinesssource

So here’s to making amends with summer, and letting fall be whatever it will be!

Weekend Favorites: Along the Way

We went to my parents’ cabin again this weekend, but we travelled a bit differently this time…

My massage therapist has suggested that to ease the tension in my body caused by sitting in a vehicle for two straight hours, we should stop every half hour so that I can get out, walk around, and stretch a little.

This does make the ride a bit a longer, but it seems to help ease some of the discomfort.

And the fun part is that I started noticing all kinds of things to take pictures of along the way! So here’s a little bit of photography from our weekend of driving and relaxing…train




making suppersupperKayliaOn the way home, Ben decided that we should go down to the river for one of our stops, so we jumped out and took a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful evening.:)

bridgeKayliaFunny how we need to be forced to slow down and pay attention sometimes, hey?!