Summer Projects

IMG_20190810_202536114~2As the cooler weather comes in through our windows, the grocery stores have started to display their pumpkins, the children settle into the daily familiar hum of school again, and the leaves start to slowly display their vibrant colors, it appears fall has arrived.  And technically, summer did just end on the calendar. But, I’ve been wanting to hold on and reflect on it a little more before it is gone; let the beauty of summer slowing linger and the lessons learned and experiences shared just sit for a while with me.

As I look back on the summer, I think of all the fun we had even though we really didn’t leave our house even that much.  And all the wonderful friends who visited us and those special moments with them.  There were lots of playing with water in the yard, football games, bonfires, s’mores, crafts, books, rosaries, and good talks.

I do think this was a very graced summer.  It was the first summer in 8 years that my husband wasn’t in school.  PhD is complete; praise God.  And… we weren’t moving.  Also, praise God for that. 🙂  He still had to work, but it was amazing how much time we had together not having school on top of that.  The gift of time.. so much to be grateful for.

This summer, with its free-er time, provided us opportunities for some projects.   We planted a garden with Grandpa, built a soccer net with Dad, and also 2 swing sets.  These projects gave the kids special time together, and taught them some important lessons.  Looking back,  perseverance seems to stick out to me the most.


The garden has been great, but it was some work – which we gave to the kids.  It was a process of weeding and tilling the earth to get everything ready for the plants, and then actually taking care of those plants – watering, weeding, picking,..  They did need to be reminded of those jobs (yes, sometimes a lot), but their hard work has paid off as they are now seeing the fruit of their labor.  That first batch of string beans were amazing.  Plus, they had bonding time with their grandpa – I am glad they will have that memory with him teaching them how to plant a garden.


The soccer goal was quite a feat.  It is actually a monster of a soccer goal.  The big boys decided to pitch in a little $ together and we covered the rest, and then they also had to pitch in some brain power, patience, and sweat. They drew up some plans with measurements and sat down with their dad to create it on paper.  Then they took to the store in search of pvc pipes and joints.  However, the store didn’t have what they needed, so right there in Home Depot, they sat down on the floor and reconstructed the whole design.  They came home with so much pvc… It was quite the sight on our front lawn.  They put it together, and had to keep re-thinking, talking it through, changing the original plan, just to make it work. It was not as easy as the boys thought it was going to be, but the end result was amazing.  Now they have a huge goal in the yard, quite possibly, forever – I really can’t see this thing breaking.  They saved a lot of $ by building it themselves and really have a great goal.

The swing sets, oh, the swing sets.  The kids saw a great little playground at Costco and wanted to pool all their birthday $ to get it (which of course wouldn’t amount to a 1/3 of the cost of it, but the thought was very admirable.) I knew they would outgrow it, and so I suggested building good, solid swing sets instead.  So, Dan did the research.  It was quite the undertaking.  The braces and swings were purchased and the wooden beams were cut.  It was a massive project.  But all the kids got out there with their dad and helped in some way or another.  It was not easy and at times some wanted to give up.  But, they persevered.  Standing up 12 ft. swing sets after they are assembled on the ground was quite the challenge.  But, we worked together and we did it!  They look amazing and are built to last.  Our kids play hard, so we needed to build them strong.  But now I look out the kitchen window while I am making dinner, and see how happy our kids are swinging in our yard, on a swing set that they built.  And they can be proud of a project that they helped create and put in not just their birthday $, but also their hard work and dedication to finishing the project.


And for my little “perseverance” project… I was able to teach the 4 oldest a little cooking.  They’ve been asking forever, and I have been teaching them things through the years, but this was the summer I finally got to do something a little more organized.  They each got to pick a meal, plan it out, and then cook the meal together from start to finish.  It was nice to be able to have time with each of them individually, and they chose some fancy meals!  We had chicken-broccoli-ziti, spicy shrimp pasta, roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans, and homemade meatballs with homemade sauce.  They did a great job, and now know how to make that meal well, so now I can put those meals on the menu and they can be in charge that night.  For me, it was persevering and actually finishing this project… dinner time can be crazy here and it just seems easier to do it myself.  But taking that extra time with them was so good and worth it.  I think we will keep this as an ongoing project… I wonder what meals they will think of next!


There are so many other ways we can talk about perseverance in a big family, in everyday life, and in our faith journey… I hope to write more on that soon. But for now, I leave you with a beautiful quote from St. Augustine on perseverance.  God bless you!

“Help me, O Lord Jesus, by saying to me, ‘ Do not tire of the narrow way; I walked it before you, I am the way itself; I am the guide, and I carry those whom I lead and bring them to Myself at the last’.”  (St. Augustine)

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