It was everywhere I turned this weekend--
It was in the way that the mornings felt a little chilly, in the way that the parks overflowed with children and parties and the smell of hamburgers grilling. It was at the farmer's market, puddling out of the stands along with the stacks of zucchini and bushels of tomatoes and ears of corn stacked ten deep:
The end of summer.
Some (not as many as I thought, but some) people told me that I would start to miss teaching once the end of August rolled around and the yellow school buses started rumbling down the streets, their red lights flashing on and off. Some people said that I would start to feel that twinge of longing when the school supplies went on sale in the grocery store, when stacks of notebooks and canisters of #2 pencils took up residence next to the soap marked down to $1 and the bins of early Halloween candy.
And maybe it was just me being stubborn and clenching onto the belief that I'd told all of those people, but trust me when I say that I really, absolutely feel zero desire to be back in the classroom right now.
There were a lot of things I loved about teaching. There were a lot of things I didn't love about teaching.
But all of those things are beside the point.
The point is that I've made the choice--right now--to be exactly in the spot that I'm in, which is waiting for my daughter to go down for her nap and planning out when would be the best time to go to the grocery store later for milk and cheese and eggs and avocados and Hershey kisses (the absolute necessities of life, in other words).
Yesterday, I taught a lesson (called sharing time) to all the children in our church congregation, and I employed many of the strategies I had practiced over and over again with my 7th graders until they'd become as natural as asking questions, as easy as reading aloud. Now when I teach, I no longer have to plan which engagement strategies I'm going to use to make sure no one's falling asleep or wandering around the room--I just do what has become second nature, gently disciplining and reminding and managing behavior when necessary, but putting far more energy into making the learning interesting and the level of participation high.
With Raven, I've started scheming up "enrichment activities" that we can try out each day (like doing "finger painting" with pudding or filling little cups with wet sand and showing her how they form shapes when you turn them upside down), simply because I think that the structure and novelty each day of doing that would be good for both of us.
In a way, the teacher side of me will never leave, and that's something I'm proud of.
At the same time, I am breathing huge sighs of relief that the only thing I need to worry about this week is my half marathon on Saturday, and not getting my classroom (and lessons) ready for the new school year ahead.
In years past, on the last weekend before everything started up again, Matt and I always made it a point of planning something extra fun so that summer could go out with a bang.
It's a sign that for the first time in our married life no one will be having a "school year" of any kind that we enjoyed a nice, quiet weekend spent just as we wanted it to be:
1 // We finally made it out to the farmer's market again, something I've been itching to do since the last time we went several weeks ago. While Matt was on baby duty and pointing out all the dogs to Raven, I filled my arms with bags of sweet corn, fat red tomatoes, a handful of shallots, and enough basil to perfume our entire front room. We ended up making this fabulous 20-minute meal from it all, and we counted the blessings that come from living in a place filled with freshly picked vegetables and easy access to delicious food blogs.
2 // I played around with a more minimal makeup look on Friday and Saturday---a little concealer and bronzer, a swipe of mascara on my eyelashes, and a bright pink lip stain. It took about two minutes to apply, and I think it might become one of my go-to weekday looks.
3 // I went on my last long run before my half marathon, and even though it felt harder than I wanted it to (tapering down your mileage will do that to you), a big part of me was relieved that we're almost to the starting (and hence, the finishing) line of this thing. I love training for big races, but I think I'm ready for a new physical challenge when all this is over (plus, I've been fighting off shin splints or some kind of related injury for weeks now, and the recovery time will be much-needed).
5 // After our little jaunt to the farmer's market, our outdoor appetite was still roaring, so we took Raven down to the park so we could all dip our feet in the cold stream and laugh at how Raven still gets excited over every single bird and dog she sees. The place was packed with birthday-partiers and volleyball players and water-fighters and just about everything in between. It was as if the town of Logan had collectively decided that it must take advantage of every last second of summer while it could and decided to spend that time at the park. It was kind of perfect, actually.
6 // Finally, we somehow got sucked into The Great British Baking Show, which led to me making cookies for the first time in literally months. I've been so good at not making sweets (since I've been counting calories and diligently training for my half), but man, nothing has ever tasted as good as that first bite of one of those cookies warm from the oven. It had been far too long.
Right now, as I finish writing this, my former colleagues and administrators are having their first back-to-school professional development training. As if right on cue, my department head just shot me a text that said that I was missing out on all the fun, and that they missed me.
It's lovely to be missed, to stay at one place long enough that people care if you're present or not.
And I love that I worked with the kind of people who would actually miss me, and especially who would take the time to tell me so.
So, even though I don't regret for one moment where I'm at, I send off a hearty salute of appreciation and a hefty wish of luck to all the teachers and students who ARE about to embark on a new school year.
It is strange, being at this point now, where our lives can no longer be measured by school years, our vacations determined by holidays and spring breaks. It is strange, not taking a first day of school picture, or sending Matt off to the university with a backpack full of too-expensive textbooks and a few protein bars to take him through his studying.
Now, we're just exactly where we're at, with no formal educational structure in place to mark the passage of time.
But, to all of this newfound freedom at this new stage in our lives, I'm saying HECK YES.
(And you thought I was going to get all sappy here right at the end, didn't you? Sucker.)
So, here's to a few more weekends of hikes and trips to the park to splash our feet in the water and eating grilled corn and slicing up watermelon.
Here's to the chilly fall weather around the corner, accompanied by our annual trip to the apple orchard and Raven's first "real" Halloween and maybe some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies thrown in for good measure.
Here's to a life I'm now measuring not by terms or trimesters or grading periods or the days left until my next holiday (because you'd better believe that's how it was)--
Here's to a life measured by happy messes and crazy "enrichment activities" and lots and lots of snuggles.
I'm so thankful to be exactly where I'm at.