What I Learned This Summer

what I learned this summer

When I can, I love to dish about what I’ve learned at the end of each month. The Let’s Share What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.” I haven’t done this since way back in October and I’ve missed it.

This month we’re invited to share what we learned over the whole Summer. Don’t worry, mine isn’t an exhaustive list. That’s because the heat of the southern summer and having all my people in the house 24/ 7 makes me dumb and I can barely remember what I’ve learned. To be honest, I am barely coherent by August 15th, but the kids go back to school tomorrow hashtag praise hands.

If you’d like to join in, just head over to Emily’s and link up.

In no particular order, here are 6 things I’ve learned this summer.


1. A change of scenery is good for the soul.


We didn’t do any fancy vacations, just our typical treks to the beach with my family and to my husband’s home-place in Michigan. We did, however, drive a different route through the midwest to Iowa, where we attended a my husband’s grandmother’s funeral and spent a couple of days with family we rarely see.

I couldn’t stop staring out the window and snapping photos of corn fields. Though we logged 2,300 miles in 8 days, getting out of my little town and inhaling a different part of the country was like a reset button for my soul. I forget how much this homebody craves a change of place.


2. The space bar on my computer works as a pause button when I’m watching Netflix.

My 15 year old showed me this, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. {More on the “Ministry of Netflix” in a later post.}


3. I DO have a “book type.”

I didn’t do tons of reading this summer like I’d hoped. But I’ve done lots of thinking about books and wrote this post on my 5 favorite literary novels of all time.

5 fave lit novels

Writing about my favorite literary novels showed me a pattern I’d never seen before and now I’m curious to know if my other favorite categories of books will have a pattern too.


4. We didn’t all have spectacular, enviable summers. Even though social media seems to convince us otherwise.

Way back in June I wrote about how to receive your own summer life. That’s because summer can sure mess with my inner peace. Even though our family’s summer is coming to an end, it’s easy to look back and see all of the things we didn’t do, all of the good intentions that gathered dust on a shelf, all of the awesomeness other families enjoyed while my kids partook of too much screen time.

Even at summer’s end, I’m still wrestling a little bit. And judging from the comments and e-mails from that post, I learned that I’m not the only one who struggles.

Here’s what I’m still learning the hard way. You can spend your seconds turned minutes turned years wishing for a life that isn’t yours, making yourself and everyone else miserable in the process. Or you can choose to receive the beauty, provision, and even heartache of your actual life. I have a million things to be grateful for. I simply forget. And so do you.


5. What happens in August, stays in August.

walking away

Yesterday I sent all of my kids to eat lunch on the porch because, even though I love them with all my heart, I just couldn’t handle the noise of them being people. And this was after I had already been to church and my heart was full of Jesus.

I texted with a friend last week and she confessed that she’d made her kids eat cereal on the deck that morning because she couldn’t deal with the noise of their spoons scraping against the bowls. She also visited the grocery store bakery three days in a row and ate cookie sandwiches in the parking lot just to get some peace and alone time.

This was the first summer in a long time that I wasn’t ready for school to start. I enjoyed my kids and our lazy schedules more than any summer ever. And then August showed up. August turns easy, laid-back, summer-loving Marian into Crazy-Person Marian. All of a sudden, I am smothered by the humans who live in my home and dreaming of ways to escape. I become the worst version of myself.

So if you too find yourself banishing your offspring because their breathing is too loud, I won’t tell. It’s just August coming around again and turning us into lunatics. Repeat this mantra, “What happens in August, stays in August.” Your self-esteem, sanity, and goodwill toward men will return in October.


6. Y’all are stressed about how to educate your kids.

I recently unveiled this little gift I’d been working on for a while.

school made simple freebie header

I got some of the sweetest e-mails from parents who are overwhelmed by the decision, parents who are switching from homeschool to public school, parents who know that their particular decision is for the best right now but it’s not what they’d planned or hoped for. So many of you are struggling with a low-grade grief or overwhelm over this issue of school.

Maybe this describes you. For years it definitely described me.

If you need a pep talk so that you can walk with more freedom and peace along whatever educational path your family has chosen {either by design or default}, this little resource is for you.

Click here to get yours! 


I’m curious, what did you learn this summer?

You can find me in the comments section, on the blog’s Facebook page, or on Twitter. We can also hang out on Instagram!



5 Things I Learned in October

Oct learned

When I can, I love to dish about what I’ve learned at the end of each month. The Let’s Share What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.”

Mine is usually just ridiculous.

In no particular order, here are 5 things I’ve learned in October.


1. Good deals sometimes cost me a lot of money.

A freebie dresser from a friend = my husband’s herniated disc last fall. A $150 Pottery Barn leather recliner {via Craiglist} almost herniated it again. My economist husband is quick to remind me that these sorts of setbacks are referred to as “transaction costs.” I always receive his fancy econ terms with much joy and enthusiasm.

The latest casualty is a super heavy Broyhill cocktail table that fell out of my van and onto my foot a few weeks ago. It may have hurt worse than having a baby because I would have paid $1000 on the spot for an epidural.

I just ditched the orthopedic boot in exchange for this snazzy shoe. Who’s bringing sexy back?


Perks: I’m Frankenstein for Halloween.

Also? I may have googled “cute post-surgical shoes.” They don’t exist. {Dear Manolo Blahnik, get on this.}


2. There really is a mug that keeps your coffee hot for hours. 

My in-laws came to visit the week after we moved in to lend a helping hand. My dear father-in-law, who may have a reputation for splurging on the latest and greatest swag, gifted my husband and I with one of these — the Yeti Rambler.

Yeti Coolers Rambler Tumbler, Silver, 20 oz, one size

My coffee stays hot for HOURS. No lie. And if I want my Diet Dr. Pepper to stay ice cold, the YETI can do that too. They’re spendy so if you can’t treat yourself, put it on your Christmas list.


3. You can be lazy. And still be a genius.

Stop what you’re doing and go here. Subscribe to the Lazy Genius Collective and thank me later.

You guys, I have ALL THE LOVE for this! It’s the common sense, encouragement, and hilarity I wish was around ten years ago when I was way too angsty about stupid stuff. And who am I kidding? I can still be angsty about stupid stuff.

Kendra is the queen / lazy genius brainchild. Here’s a little snippet from her:

Like you, I’ve listened to everyone from neighbors to Dr. Oz talk about how I should live, how I should parent, and what swimsuit looks best on my body shape. (Answer: I like winter.) 

Over the years, I’ve learned that if my worth is based on how well I do everything I should, then I am 100% a terrible human being. So you know what I did? I quit trying so hard. And I started being a genius about being lazy. It’s the way to live, you guys, and I’d love for you to join me.

The LGC will be your best friend about everything from cooking and editing your life to taking your fun more seriously. Because we can all “be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.”

I’m not affiliated with the LGC in any way. But you guys know I’m a gal who’s all about writing the real and kicking perfectionism to the curb and being reasonable about our expectations.


4. Little kids classrooms are a personality lab. And personality labs are super fun for me. 

Since school started, I’ve been going to work each morning in a first-grade classroom until lunchtime. I just haven’t written about it here. My job is to be a “shadow” for a sweet young friend of mine who’s the hardest working first grader I know. She has Down Syndrome but she can read and write and ace spelling tests like a boss. Having a shadow allows her to learn in a typical first-grade classroom along with her peers.

school tower

What I didn’t expect was all the fun I’d have getting to know the other kids in the class. Already, their little personalities are showing up in big ways. I can tell you which kid is going to be a teacher and which one may end up on American Idol and which one will go to art school. They are so wonderfully and hilariously unique.

They also say things like, “Mrs. Vischer, can you help me order-betize these words?” and “You are almost 20 years older than my mom!”

I’ve been super observant all my life, paying attention to things that a lot of people overlook. {And overlooking a lot of stuff that happens to be really important information. Flashbacks to 9th grade Geometry class.} But paying attention to the ways tiny humans interact with one another and with the world around them is absolutely one of my favorite things.


5. Moving saps your will to live. {and makes you dramatic}

moving van

I wrote about our house story and the move itself in my last post so I won’t rehash it here. I had visions of moving in and painting and unpacking boxes like a ninja. But now we’re here and apparently our real life schedules don’t pause just because we moved. Neither do falling tables and injuries and jobs and kids.

Anyway, I underestimated how the ordeal of the last year and the move itself sapped what little was left of my energy and motivation. We may be living out of boxes and staring at beige walls for a while is what I’m saying. {I did buy the Nester’s Cozy Minimalist course in hopes that she will boss me into setting up house one room at a time.}


Thanks to Emily for giving me a reason to think about what I’ve learned this month and forcing a blog post even though I’m living in a sea of unpacked boxes and dirty laundry {and eating Halloween candy for breakfast.}

What did YOU learn in October?

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6 Things I Learned in July

july 15 learned

1. Jim Gaffigan is on Instagram.

This isn’t news but I just started following him. Think photos of food, Jim’s face made out of food, and the occasional family pic with hilarious captions one might expect from our favorite pale, McDonald’s-loving, Hot Pocket-lampooning comedian. {For the record, I also follow his wife, Jeannie Gaffigan.} #shamelessfan


2. Watching my boys play golf together swells my heart like nothing else.

golf brothers

I always envisioned myself as a boy mom. Even though I desperately hoped there would be a girl in the mix {and there is}, a house full of boys never seemed far-fetched to me. I don’t exactly have a house full but the males do outnumber the females in our home.

When the baby of our family was born, the youngest was already four. I worried that they wouldn’t be close as brothers because four years seemed like a hefty gap at that point. Even now, the older one will soon begin middle school while his baby brother is still in second grade.

Their personalities are nothing alike. But brotherhood seems to cover a multitude of differences.

They share a room and drive each other crazy yet neither one can bear the idea of not sleeping in the same room together. They also share a love of golf and have played until after dark many, many nights this summer.

On Monday, little brother officially caddied for big brother in a local JPGA tournament. Y’all, I couldn’t stop taking pics and smiling. I literally thought my heart would burst. I can’t tell you why this makes me happier than almost anything. I only know that it does. I hope that they always have each other’s back. Also? Seeing a tiny kid carry a set of clubs as tall as he is and advise big brother to either use his 7-iron or a hybrid is possibly the most adorable thing ever.


3. Primer is a girl’s best friend. Especially in the summer.

primer face

Makeup is still there!

So I’ve not worn makeup more than I’ve worn makeup this summer. Such is the life of a mom who has three kids, a house on the market, six showings in one week, and working from home. I know, I know. I was all about my Bobbi Brown makeup last month and I still am. I’m also just trying to survive and sometimes getting pretty doesn’t make the cut.

But on the rare occasion that I do get semi-gussied up, I’m all about the primer. Without it, makeup vanishes into thin air. These things happen when you’re over 40. My precisely applied eyeliner is all for naught. I tried some inexpensive primer way back when and it was okay but tended to turn into tiny gel beads on my face if I didn’t apply just right.

Recently I sampled some Smashbox primer at Sephora and my eyeliner stayed put! All day! So did everything else, even though I was walking around in the heat for hours. MIRACULOUS. I bought myself a trial size of this and this. A little goes a long way and I wanted to try it over time before I bought a full-size tube. I’ve heard there are other great primers out there so if you have a favorite, I’d love to know.


4. Having a writing companion is a game changer.

exercise ball

Starbucks and exercise ball / desk chairs are fine companions but they can’t take the place of an actual person.

Sometimes you become slowly acquainted with someone who’s at the same stage as you on just about everything — marriage, motherhood, work, writing. You have similar dreams, similar ways of seeing the world, similar obsessiveness with Anne Lamott. It’s a gift is what it is.

I met Kimberly Coyle two years ago at She Speaks. We got to hang out again last year at Allume. But my first introduction to Kimberly was many summers ago when we each wrote guest posts for Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman’s blog. I loved Kimberly’s writing style {and may have envied her life abroad.}

Not so long ago we embarked on a little journey to spur one another along in our writing endeavors. I wish I’d started sooner. Regular emails with my writing friend feels like having a grown-up pen pal. Knowing that she’ll check in encourages me to keep writing in the midst of self-doubt and laundry and busy-ness and tiny humans who start fighting as soon as I sit down to write.


5. Starbucks iced coffee in the grocery store.



Get some today. Pour over ice and add a splash of half and half. Your afternoon will thank you.


6. When my outer world swirls crazy, my inner world follows suit. The well-spun words of others can be a gift in times like this.

See above comment about kids and summer and house-selling. Stuff is finally happening with our home but there are a thousand unknowns. I’m giddy one minute and devastated the next. I’ll tell you all about it later. Let’s just say that good sleep eludes me and soul rest sometimes feels like a joke.

I’m thankful for writers. I’m supremely thankful for ancient writers who penned the bread and life words of Scripture. I’m also thankful for today’s writers who speak in relevant ways to age-old struggles that simply wear modern clothes. I’ve mentioned it before {and will again} but Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World has been one of those books for me. I was gifted with the chance to read it early and the timing was perfect.


If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, I highly recommend that you do. {Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove has been another timely companion for my anxious soul this summer.}


So there you go. Six things I learned in July.

What have YOU learned this summer? We can dish in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can chime in with you own list and link up with Emily.

Subscribe in the box below for real encouragement in real time. {And of course you may unsubscribe whenever you like.}


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