What I Learned This Summer


Between first trimester brain fog, preparing for our big trip, the big trip itself, and an eventful few weeks after it, this summer has fairly well flown by.

In my neck of the woods it’s been a mild one, with days of no A/C and even some chilly mornings. My windows are open now and it is lovely. While Texas still reigns in my heart, I will never miss its summer heat.

Adventures near and far have brought heaps of lessons learned; at this point I feel like I could write The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Road-Tripping with Small Children. (And you may argue a more apropos title there never was :)).

But I’ve written enough about our Canada Extravaganza for now.  So I’ll speak mainly on matters of hospitality, pregnancy cravings, pizza co-ops, risotto, and Monet.

What I Learned This Summer

1.) The best way to get Chicago-style pizza without going to Chicago? Start a co-op.

‘Round here, everyone’s got their fav Chicago pizza. Mine is Lou Malnati’s. And boy did my pregnant stomach want some back in June.

At first my prospects looked bleak, but after a FB posting of my latest and greatest craving, a friend mentioned that buying/shipping six Lou’s pizzas was a much (much) better deal that one or two. Hmm. Now to find other interested families.

Turns out it wasn’t hard. In less than a week, I’d ordered, received the delivery, and had people showing up on my doorstep for pick-up–even some that I’d never met. And then I got to enjoy my cheesy goodness.


2.) On the topic of pregnancy cravings, I’ve discovered a new category: movies. 

The movies I want to see when pregnant aren’t ones I’d usually choose, so I’m chalking it up to the baby on board.

This summer, I’ve taken in Nacho Libre, Mission Impossible IV, and Veronica Mars. And then I quoted Nacho for a good two weeks after.

Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect
Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect

3.) Claude Monet once went to Norway for two months and produced 29 paintings during his stay. 

That’s doing about one painting every other day–which seems like a ton to me.  And at that rate, I have to think they weren’t all masterpieces.

My takeaway as someone who loves to write? Do the work. Show up, produce stuff, know that it won’t all be amazing but that greatness won’t come without volume.

Breanne's and my littles doing dress-up and storytime
Breanne’s and my littles doing dress-up and storytime

3.) Blog-to-“real”-life friends are so, so great.

This past month, I met the lovely Em in person; we enjoyed a couple hours at the Chicago Art Institute (hence the Monet revelation), some pretty fabulous tacos, and conversation about everything from MBTI to writing to whether we are the only two people in the blogosphere who didn’t completely adore 1,000 Gifts.

Then Breanne came to visit with her fam, which outside of our Canada trip was a total highlight of my summer.

Listening to our four year olds play house? Priceless. Listening to our two year olds melt down? Knowing you’re in the trenches together. Chatting about Canadian/U.S. cultural norms over crème brûlée? Lovely.

One of our favorite "Aunties," visiting from East Africa
One of our favorite “Aunties,” visiting from East Africa

4.) When you’ve got lots of company coming to stay, make as much ahead of time as possible. As for the rest, make it easy or pick it up elsewhere. 

That way, you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. This month, we had three sets of company within a week and while I followed some of my own advice, I wish I’d done more ahead.

Emily of New Moon

5.) Emily of New Moon, you are my fictional soulmate.

Thank you, Art of Simple Podcast with Modern Mrs. Darcy for the book rec and for completely destroying my to-read list for the summer.

Nerdy personality-type geekery footnote: I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that both L.M. Montgomery and Emily Byrd Starr were HSP. 

death comes to pemberley

6.) P.D. James wrote Death Comes to Pemberley when she was flipping 91. 

At first, I was afraid to read someone else’s version of my beloved P & P world.  But it was a great story and her respect for the original story was clear (personally, I think Lady Catherine gets as good of lines as in P & P).

And 91?! What in the world. I want to be like that.

7.) Do not fear risotto. Just follow this recipe.

But maybe don’t decide to make it an hour before company comes and you have four kids under five afoot. Unless you have good snacks for everyone.

What have you learned this summer (silly, serious, or in-between)? Please share!

And then, hop over to Chatting at the Sky to check out other lovely people’s lessons learned. 🙂 

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About Jenn

Jenn is a mommy of three and wife to her best friend. She enjoys good books, dinner guests, elevenses, and proper apostrophe use.