9 Things I Learned This Summer



We are closing in on the final days of Summer here, with just four full days of no schedule remaining.  I find myself both sad to lose the carefree nature of no school, but also ready to get back into the regular rhythm of all the things.  The kids are very eager for Tuesday to come, but it’s going to be a lot quieter this year with FOUR kids in school, and just Cooper to hang out with me all day.

Once again I’m joining in with Emily in sharing “What We Learned”, a practice I enjoy participating in at the end of each season.  In no particular order, here are 9 Things I Learned this Summer:

fountain of water


There is a quicker way to get to church.  We’ve been attending our church here for over two years, and just this summer I discovered a new route that saves us about 5 minutes of driving time.  Not only do we get to drive by this pretty wall each week, but finding a quicker route taught me to evaluate my rhythms.  Perhaps I do things just because that’s the way I’ve done them.  Are my current rhythms the best or could I shift things around in my schedule, or my closets and drawers so we can have more order and efficiency?  Lessons abound in every situation; we just need to pay attention.


fountain of water

Escape rooms don’t require that you actually have to GET OUT OF THE ROOM.  I never wanted to participate in one of these events because I hate small spaces and get terribly claustrophobic.  Well, it turns out that you aren’t actually locked into a small space forever.  My parents, sisters, and our husbands figured out all the clues and escaped from our room, before the time was up.  I didn’t panic, and it was fun.


fountain of water

Our town is home to the world’s first ice cream cone machine.  There’s a barbecue place downtown near our church called Doumar’s, named after Abe Doumar who invented the cone machine.  It was first used at Coney Island, N.Y., in 1905, and they still use it today to make cones here in Norfolk, VA.  (The bbq wasn’t awesome, but it was definitely worth the experience).


fountain of water

Having a good quality salad dressing container inspires homemade dressing.  We love a good balsamic dressing and I’ve been making it for years, but the mason jars I was using were too small and they dripped.  I finally ordered this container and it has made a big difference.  We love it and it was worth the $15.  It holds over a cup of dressing, it doesn’t leak, and the pour spout is perfect.  Plus, it isn’t ugly or glass, so hopefully it will last a long time.


fountain of water

Grief comes in waves, but through the spiritual discipline of remembering, I’m able to walk through it in a healthy way.


fountain of water

New York City with kids is a blast.  We took the girls for a two day trip to the city and we had so much fun.  We took things at their pace, which meant no shows, no big tourist attractions or rushing from here to there.  We walked a lot, rode the subway, visited Chinatown, ate in Little Italy, roamed around Central Park, and ate all the fun things.  My favorite part was watching their faces light up at every little thing.  They said “Thank you” constantly, and Isabella told me after the first day, “This was the best day of my life.”  She’s a city girl at heart, and she’s now begging for a trip to Paris.


fountain of water

There is a way for me to get books from the library without going crazy.  The kids are usually restless by the time we’ve played in the kids’ zone, and chosen their piles of books, so when we get downstairs to search the adult section and check out, someone inevitably runs away or decides to grab all of the brochures and free resources from the circulation desk.  It ruins the visit.  So, now we start downstairs with books for me first.  But instead of perusing the aisles, I go directly to the new material section, grab 5 or 6 books that sound interesting, and I’m done.  Sometimes I end up with duds, but this method proved effective this summer.  I discovered an author I liked, and eventually read 1500 pages worth of historical fiction from him.  My current read is another new release, a mystery set in Uganda, that I’m loving.  We can now visit the library without anyone needing discipline and I come home with a stack of my own..


fountain of water

My kids are growing up.  Obviously this happens all the time, but over the summer I noticed a lot of changes.  We’re almost out of the diaper phase, people are sleeping better at night, the years of all-the-time discipline are starting to pay off in wiser choices from each child, and everyone is generally becoming a bit more independent.  Yes, the baby years are fun and I enjoyed them, but there is also a lot of joy in watching these little people mature in their own ways.


fountain of water

It takes me approximately 1.5 hours to get into a groove of writing after I leave the house.  I said yes to speaking at a women’s retreat this fall, and in order to finish preparing my sessions, I have to get out of the house.  What I didn’t realize is that I can’t show up at Starbuck’s after a ten minute drive from home and immediately sit down to crank out my ideas.  Chunk-time writing, as referred to in Hope*Writers, requires a bit chunk on the front end for my mind to engage in the work.  This is helpful moving forward, and hopefully–over time–the amount of time it takes to actually start producing material will lessen.



What did you learn this summer?


  • Terri Conlin

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m here from Emily’s and a fellow hope*writer.

    I love the lesson and the flamingo mural you discovered taking a different route to church. I’ll keep thinking about this for a while which is always a good sign for the writer.

    I love the library and I really like the New Materials shelf in your library. I finally started reserving my books online before I headed to the library. That way mine are ready and waiting at check out if I don’t have time or a chance to browse.


  • Aimee Kollmansberger

    At our library, I reserve books online and then run in and pick them up! Adult books, audiobooks and kids books. I get recommendations of blogs and FB and request them. SO MUCH BETTER.

    And I am the same with writing. It takes a while for my adrenaline to calm down enough after leaving the house and a bunch of kids in order to write. I can’t go deep right away.

  • Julie Gentino

    I loved this post! It’s nice to catch up with you! 🙂 I have long been contemplating buying a salad dressing shaker (I pick up the OXO one in Target every time I walk by), and never spend the $$. But you’re right, it would be so worth the $15 not to have a jar that leaks! I agree about the library, it can get so hectic. I too have begun placing holds for everything. I’m even more spoiled than that, because my MIL stops by and picks our holds up for me! When my kids want to go to the library, I make it an actual separate outing (usually once a month or so). I don’t bring a list of books to find, I let them each choose a few of their own, and we just hang out and play. It’s reduced my library stress level so much! Finally: I whole-heartedly agree with you: older kids are SO much fun!

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