Fall is always slow to arrive here but this year it's been especially dragging. And I've been slow to get back into my creative school year routine. But with the heat breaking a little bit and our routines starting to feel more established I'm feeling my creative energy coming back. Hooray!
Here's what's been going on lately...
Weather + mood + the boot
August and September were unexpectedly tough months for me. It was HOT. So hot. This summer was the hottest and driest that we've ever had. School drop off and pick up, running errands, and managing the boys after school all felt especially trying in the extreme heat. At least during the summer we could go to the pool to cool off but here the pools close when school is back in session – even though it's still above 110 degrees most days. It's frustrating!
I wasn't able to tap into my summer optimism the way I was last year as the heat dragged on. When the boys went back to school I didn't find my usual boost of creative motivation for a new school year. Usually the summer heat is at least broken up with a few spectacular monsoon storms but we had pitiful rainfall. When the heat is so extreme it makes Chris and me wonder if Arizona will still be livable in 10 or 20 years – will the summers be days of 115 for weeks on end? Will there be enough water? It makes the heat feel even more stressful. Blah!
Also in August: Chris severed one of his plantar fascia (the major tendon along the bottom of your foot), ouuuuuuch! The injury put him in a walking boot with crutches or a knee scooter for weeks. He's only just now starting to transition out of the boot into regular shoes. Luckily he hasn't been in a lot of pain the entire time but the injury meant he was much less mobile for a long time and couldn't do as much with the boys or around the house (although he did as much as he could!). At times the injury and not being able to be physically active would get Chris down although for the most part he's stayed optimistic. The heat + two cooped up energetic boys + one parent with a foot injury = some long, hot weekends!
BUT! The extreme heat finally broke towards the end of September and it's made a huge difference. I can wear jeans in the morning for school drop off. I take the boys to the park every day after school now. They run and play and we all transition more smoothly to being at home and our evening routines. With that change I'm feeling my motivation and energy return and it feels so good!
Since August I've traveled a lot. It helped to break up the extreme heat. Chris and I went to Turks and Caicos for a wedding in early August (where Chris got his injury playing basketball; an unfortunate souvenir) and a week later I went to Sedona for my annual book club retreat. Then in early September I flew to Austin for my sister's baby shower. I love going to Austin with the whole family but it was also a treat to be at home in Austin by myself. There's much less time for sitting, relaxing, and catching up when they boys are there. :)
At the end of September we went on a family camping trip to the Mogollon Rim (Spillway Campground) and then a couple days later Chris and I drove to Flagstaff for a little getaway. Chris was invited to give a guest lecture at Northern Arizona University so we turned it into a trip. Being gone for a Tuesday through Thursday and missing the usual routine for a few days has felt luxurious.. I'm getting this post started from Tourist Home Cafe while sipping Stormchaser coffee and eating the most delicious cinnamon roll of my life (so good I had to come back for a second morning in a row). WHEW! And we aren't done yet! We have another family camping trip in mid-October. AND THEN Chris and I will go to Philadelphia in early November where Chris will attend a conference (and my cousins Emily and Brian will be there too!). I love having so many trips to look forward to.
Towards the end of the summer I was in a reading slump. Nothing I was reading, including Elizabeth Gilbert's new City of Girls, was pulling me in the way a great book can. It was bumming me out! But once I could see fall on the horizon I felt myself pulled back to mystery novels and returned to an old favorite: Inspector Gamache. I picked up the series where I had left off last winter and read three in quick succession. Then I listened to The Wedding Date (I really enjoyed The Proposal and the narrator is great). Now I'm reading The Most Fun We Ever Had and really enjoying it. I can't wait to discuss it with my book club. Next up will be Ann Patchett's new book The Dutch House. She is one of my favorite authors and has never disappointed me so I'm eager to jump in. After that I'll be knocking a book off my bucket list that I'm kind of scared to read: In Cold Blood. I know it's a classic and supposed to be great but my tolerance for gruesome and suspense is ... not high. But I convinced my book club to read it with me so there will be comfort in knowing others are reading it too. And Maybe it wont be a scary as I think! Are you reading anything great this fall?
School year + sports
The boys are doing great in first grade and pre-K and I really like both of their teachers. Our school is starting to feel like a close-knit community which I love. I've also been going to our PTSO (parent-teacher-student organization) meetings which helps me feel more connected to what's happening at school. I also hope to make an impact on two things at our school over the next few years: nutrition policy and diversity and inclusion. I don't think our school is doing a bad job on either issue but they are things I'm passionate about and I know we could improve.
Dash is playing soccer again this year so we have one weeknight practice and a game each Saturday. He loves soccer and we really like his team and coach. It's so fun to watch him play! I'd prefer to have no weeknight commitments but one night per week is not terrible and the practice is right in our neighborhood. We established a family rule that you can start playing sports in kindergarten and Cedric is eager to play basketball so I anticipate having two weeknight commitments next year. I'm sure it'll feel normal but right now that seems like a lot!
Also on the school front, this coming week is already fall break. I have a half-day camp set up for Dash for the week and am planning some fun camp-like activities for Cedric at home.
With my lack of motivation lately I'm so glad I have a creative partner in Erica for The Girl Next Door Podcast. I'm continually proud of the content we produce and am thankful that our accountability to each other essentially means creating is not an option. Which is, of course, the best way to get out of a slump: just keep showing up! Our recent Fall Extravaganza episode was really fun and the response form listeners is always great. I love that we are unofficial fall ambassadors for so many people.
During the summer while the boys were home with me I felt like many of the household routines like cleaning and meal planning fell off the rails. I think the household runs better when cleaning and tidying happens on a daily basis or at least weekly basis. Usually when the boys are in schools it's not very hard for me to do these things and I actually enjoy doing them. But when the boys are home: not so much. After school started these routines have been slow to return to my life. I think we've also been off with Chris not being able to (understandably!) do as much. Usually he'll tidy up the kitchen and front of the house in the morning before he leaves for work. When that wasn't happening I found it harder to get anything around the house done from creative work to other cleaning tasks. I'm so affected by my environment! I'm just starting to feel like these routines are getting back in my life and IT FEELS SO GOOD!
Marriage + date nights
Lately Chris and I have been doing a great job prioritizing date night and time together. I'm really proud of this aspect of our marriage. It feels like we're equally committed to making sure we get time together. We have so much fun together (how lucky to say that about my husband after nearly 10 years together) and especially in the middle of a trying couple of months our date nights left us feeling refreshed. Or day dates, we love to start a date around 2:30 pm so we don't have to stay out late, ha!
To make sure we prioritize dates we have a budget line item of $300/month for dates which equals about two dates taking into account babysitting and whatever activities we do. Plus we had our trip to Turks and Caicos, to Flagstaff, and soon to Philadelphia. We are so fortunate that our parents are so willing and able to keep the boys for us overnight when we have the opportunity to travel. We are eternally grateful!
I think that catches you up! Happy Sunday!