The Summer List, 2016 Version

It's officially summer! I love taking the time to make a list of all of the things (big and little) that I hope to do/cook/go/make/savor over the seasons. Do you do this, too? I admit I'm feeling a bit sad that we're not in Rhode Island to enjoy this beautiful season - those New England summers really are something special. Still, there's lots of goodness to enjoy around here, and making this list was a good reminder to appreciate the treasures in my life right now

Photo: Cameron Stowe

Photo: Cameron Stowe

So without further ado, here are 50 things on my summer list:

  1. Go to the county fair. In the evening, when the carnival lights come on!
  2. Make a flower mandala.
  3. Visit a National Park.
  4. Check out the new SFMOMA.
  5. Picnic in the park.
  6. Float on a lake.
  7. Work on earning our Wild Explorer's Club badges.
  8. Go camping.
  9. Have lobster for dinner!
  10. Pick berries.
  11. Make fresh lemonade.
  12. Do some science experiments.
  13. Go to an outdoor concert.
  14. Try paddle boarding! 
  15. Make a fairy house, pixie tower, or toad home.
  16. Ride a train.
  17. Visit a new park.
  18. Go for a walk on the beach at dawn.
  19. Swim in the ocean.
  20. Go to a matinee on a really hot day.
  21. Walk barefoot in the grass.
  22. Feed the ducks.
  23. Make the best quick pickles.
  24. Go for a nature walk.
  25. Press wildflowers.
  26. Make a refrigerator cake.
  27. Ride bikes on a pretty path.
  28. Read, read, read! (My pick: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante; Bixby's pick: The Treehouse Books by Andy Griffiths)
  29. Watch fireworks.
  30. Watch the Olympics!
  31. Make a summer scrapbook.
  32. Play board games.
  33. Build a sandcastle. Or sand cat, whatever.
  34. Have a tiki party and pretend we're in Hawaii!
  35. Ride a ferris wheel.
  36. Listen to the Beach Boys.
  37. Mix up some sidewalk paint!
  38. Make jam.
  39. Go bowling.
  40. Fly a kite.
  41. Make some gorgeous grilled pizza!
  42. Go bird watching.
  43. Send postcards to friends far away.
  44. Visit an observatory to look at the stars.
  45. Visit a historical site. 
  46. Go to a flea market.
  47. Skip stones.
  48. Listen to an audio book on a road trip.
  49. Visit a beautiful garden,
  50. Color the sidewalk cracks.

So that wraps up my list (for now...I keep thinking of more things!) ... what's on your summer list?

Lately

Hello loves! I decided a good old fashioned update post was long overdue, so here it is! This was my son Bixby's first year in a new school, in a new state, on a new coast, and it went really well. Phew! As a mom, I was really nervous at the beginning of the year - for all the usual reasons - but also because we had just moved from the east coast and he was still recovering from a broken arm that refuses to heal and with an end-of-June birthday, he would be one of the youngest in the class. I feel so lucky that we ended up with a wonderful teacher who made this sensitive transition as easy as pie. Teachers are the best! More updates and random thoughts ahead...

Pinnacles National Monument

- Over the weekend we went to Pinnacles National Park with a few other families to celebrate Father's Day. It was gorgeous, but so hot! The kids ran wild, got bitten by fire ants, and chased each other with water guns - so, good times! We're already thinking of a trip next year in April when hopefully the weather will be more mild. I would love to visit all of the National Parks with my family before Bixby grows up!

- Lately we have been loving Charlotte's Web as a read aloud, and as we approach the end with (spoiler alert!) Charlotte's death, I find myself walking that delicate line between having a rich discussion about a big topic, yet also wanting to protect him from all of the awful things in the world.

- With so much horrific news lately, I feel more than ever the need to teach him about how all of us humans are the same underneath, and deserving of respect and safety and love. I've been eyeing this book lately, it looks like a wonderful resource for children's literature from around the world. 

Rock Climbing

- And now...my adventure boy is turning SIX! Birthdays are a BIG DEAL around here. I love my own birthday, and I am happy to stretch out family birthday celebrations for as long as possible. We had a chemistry party with his friends a little early, and he has requested lobster (!) and refrigerator cake for his family birthday dinner. I'm feeling the urge to spoil him rotten this year because last year was such a hard one: we had just sold our house and were living out of suitcases when he broke his arm...two days before his birthday party, which meant he was recovering from surgery instead of playing with his friends.

- To encourage his adventurous spirit - and learn some new wilderness skills along the way - I've signed us up for The Wild Explorers Club. Have you heard of it? It's sort of like scouting, but it's online! You get weekly assignments, a monthly kids' adventure magazine, and then you earn animal badges (which they send you in the mail) when you complete a level. It sounds fun! We can't wait to get started.

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- Also: it's summer! I enrolled in Artful Parenting 101 to inspire more creating + making around here this summer, since we have some extra free time. We are in week 2, and so far I'm loving it! I'm also compiling a great big Summer List to share with you later this week, so stay tuned for that. :-) 

I would love to hear from you - what have you been up to lately? What's on your mind? Are you home with kids this summer, or is everyone as busy as ever with work and summer camp?

What I Learned from Mapping My Time (+ Why You Should Try It)

"I'm so busy," "There just aren't enough hours in the day," "I'd love to, but I'll never have time..."

Sound familiar? It's so common to feel you are running at full-speed through the week, only to make it to an equally-packed weekend ... and feel exhausted by the time Monday morning rolls around again. But why? Why are we running ourselves ragged? And shouldn't there be a better way? Guess what: there is. 

A new part of the last e-course I taught was about time: specifically, how to create more time for the things you really want to be doing. In order to teach this module of our class, I needed to be my own guinea pig and test out my ideas. After going through this process myself, I found the most effective tool to be a time map

Want More Hours in Your Day? Make a time map! (I'll show you how)

So, what the heck is a time map?

A time map is simply a record of how you actually spend the hours of your day. The key word here being actually! When we make guesses about how we are spending our time, we tend to underestimate how long we spend on not-so-great things (like browsing social media) and overestimate the amount of time we spend on positive things (like playing with our kids) - and getting a clear picture of how we actually spend our time is the first step if you want to change things.

How to make your time map:

  1. Decide how long to track your time. You can map your time for a day, a week, or longer. If you choose to track your time for a single day, be sure to choose a pretty average day - not one with super-unusual circumstances, like a birthday party or a special day off. Just pick a normal, run of the mill day.
  2. Decide how to keep your log. You can use your phone or paper and pencil, just make sure it's something you will have on you at all times.
  3. Track it! I recommend beginning first thing in the morning by recording the time you wake up. Each time you start a new activity (making breakfast, commuting to work, etc.) record the time and make a note of what you are doing.
  4. Learn from it. Pour yourself a cup of tea and peruse your notes. What surprises you? What would you like to change? If you are a visual person, you could transfer your raw data into a pretty pie chart (I like Keynote on the Mac) or colorful graph.

First you can see how I was spending my time when I created my map (hover over chart to see the labels):

TIME MAP: Hours in My Day (Current)

I learned that I was spending more time on social media + random browsing online that I would like (2 hours!) and working for 8 hours, even though I work from home and supposedly have a flexible schedule. And the amount of "personal" time I was getting was practically nonexistent, coming in at 30 minutes total, including my shower + getting dressed. 

What's next?

Next, my friends, is the fun part: it's when you look at your current time map and do a little creative editing. What can you cut that's not bringing you joy? What commitments can you let go of (or delegate)? And, perhaps most importantly: what do you wish you had more time for? Start working in pockets of time for your passions, for creativity, self-care, wellness, reading, and yoga. Start trimming away excess screen time and drudgery.

Look for creative ways to fix things you have accepted as unchangeable: Can you swap child care with a friend to get some alone time? Wake up a half-hour early to work on your novel? Get groceries delivered so you don't have to drag your screaming toddler to the store?

After making a few tweaks, my DESIRED time map looked like this (hover over chart to see the labels):

TIME MAP: Hours in My Day (Desired)

My new-and-improved time map includes an hour more sleep, an hour less work, and 1 1/2 hours more personal time. How did I manage this? By making a commitment to work more efficiently within the time I have scheduled, I have been able to stick to a 7-hour workday ... and this also meant less social media time, because I found I was most likely to browse social media sites while procrastinating on a writing assignment. And that extra hour of sleep? It doesn't happen every day, but when I do manage to get to bed earlier, I find that I am more alert + focused the next day, which makes my work go faster!

Take Action!

So what are you waiting for? Start mapping your time, and see what changes it inspires. (And if you try it, I'd love to hear!)