I’ve always loved the title of Joan Didion’s essay, Goodbye to All That, which pays homage to New York, the city, her love for it, but the need to leave it behind. Her love affair with New York begins as most love affairs do—with awe and passion and all-encompassing rapture; however, the city ends up burdening and exhausting her as a writer with its frenetic pace and way of life.
It’s quite the opposite for me when considering the ideals of the summer season. Summer rolls in mid-year with its sunshine, flowers, humidity, warmth, relaxing tendencies, and languid days. And while I keep myself busy in the summer, its pace these last couple of years has been nothing short of wonderful.
And now it’s September and cooler (unusually so, especially today). Pumpkin spice coffees and sunflowers are already making appearances on Facebook and Instagram, and not to rush the season, I actually got suckered into purchasing a pair of velvet booties (velvet is a hot trend this fall/winter season).
So now it’s time to say farewell to the summer days that offer us few cares and worries. My son’s senior year of high school begins this Wednesday, as well as my daughter’s sophomore year. It seems like just yesterday they were running through the sprinklers in their bathing suits out on the front lawn of our Ellicott City home—carefree, spirited, and wide-eyed with wonder. Now they are two teenage people with jobs, school, and extra-curricular activities. Time has marched on, as it always does, and we’ve all grown older.
But Summer, dear, sweet Summer, it’s difficult to let go of you. You cast your spell on us and allow us to be young and free-spirited for a while; you harken back to those carefree days when I watched my children play and the days seemed endless. You give us the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company without deadlines and appointments and commitments. I wish you could stay, Summer, but I understand that you cannot.
So, I’m afraid I have to say it, although it breaks my heart: Goodbye to all that.
Right now, I’m sitting on my screened in back porch loving that it’s a June summer day. It’s a little humid, and it rained earlier, but now the sky is blue and the sun is out. The breeze is rippling the trees. It’s invigorating.
I look at summer as a time to unwind a little and a time to try to enjoy the simple things in life: a barbecue with friends and family; days spent at the beach; squeezing in a little travel; cocktails at the pool; watching my son play golf; and seeing my daughter perform in her dance intensive in July.
I love this time and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Today, I’d like you to consider making this your best summer ever, and I’ve pulled five inspirational quotes to help you frame some personal goals.
Yesterday, students at Stevenson University celebrated their graduation at our ceremonies in Maryland. As a professor in the department of Business Communication, I was thrilled to see our graduates walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. They worked hard the last four years, and it paid off.
As for my colleagues and me, that means we are done teaching until August (unless some are teaching a summer course). While we certainly have preparations to make for the Fall 2017 semester (and I will be teaching a newly created course as well that requires a lot of work), we are free to do some things we want to do during our time off. I’ve compiled a list of the 8 Things Teachers Enjoy During Summer Break having spoken to countless teachers who enjoy the down time between the school year. Here are 8 things teachers may do during their summer break:
Clean: The summer months provide ample time to get to those projects that have been sorely neglected. For example, next week I will be tackling the dissection of my garage. We’ve lived in our home for 4 years, and it’s time to do some major cleaning—the kids have grown, and we no longer have a need for toys, old sports equipment, and certain memorabilia. Cleaning out offices and closets are also high on the list of summer projects.
Read: During the semesters or school year, we grade a lot of written work, and we bring a lot of that home with us, which leaves little time to read for fun…just ask my book club; I barely have time to finish some of the books we choose throughout the year. Summer reading means we can immerse ourselves into our own pleasures, which includes books we want to read and books we need to read. There is nothing better than catching up on a few good books.
Travel: My colleague, Heather, is off to Italy; others are heading to the Outer Banks; our family is gearing up for another trip to Hilton Head with a stop in Charleston. My husband and I are planning our 20th anniversary trip. Summer is the best time for teachers with children to travel—no one misses school days as everyone is off. Traveling allows us to decompress, de-stress, and relax in a location we have selected. Whether it’s a long vacation or short day trips, travel allows us to become connected to people and places in the most fascinating ways.
Write: Summer allows us time to write, especially for those of us who have to present at conferences, research our discipline, and publish works as part of our academic careers. It also allows us time to write creatively—especially for those of us who have a creative spirit and write on the side.
Exercise: It’s true. I find I have much more limited time to work out during the school year as I have that responsibility along with the responsibility of taking care of my family. In the summer, there is no excuse for not squeezing in a workout, a long walk, a bike ride, or a swim at the pool. Making time to spend on our health and well-being is important, and summer is great time to start making strides towards better health.
Garden: I was talking to my colleague Roger yesterday before graduation ceremonies, and he was telling me about how he couldn’t wait to begin tackling his garden. He, like many others, enjoy the serenity gardening brings us. It’s also a great way to get a little exercise and tend to nature and see the beautiful results of your labor as flowers bloom and veggie and fruit plants provide you with fresh offerings right from your yard.
Reconnect: Being a teacher doesn’t leave a lot of time for social interactions simply because our work and family life commitments can be time consuming, both inside and outside of the classroom. Summer offers teachers time to reconnect with neighbors and friends at neighborhood functions, barbecues, pools, clubs, or at adult socials.
Indulge: Summer provides teachers the time to indulge in our favorite hobbies—and that can involve anything! It could mean attending baseball games, making pottery, taking photographs, running, or painting. It’s important to have hobbies, and the summer months offer teachers time to reconnect with some of their interests and talents.
I know I haven’t hit them all, but I think I’ve covered some of the main things teachers get excited to do during the summer months. If I’ve missed something, please let me know, and truly, HAVE A GREAT SUMMER, FELLOW TEACHERS!
Gosh, life is busy, isn’t it? We’re all just pushing through each day trying to accomplish all that we can during the 12+ hours we are awake.
That said, it’s been a busy April, as it often is in the university world. With three weeks remaining of the semester, the students are getting ready for their final presentations, papers, and pitches. I am excited to see what unfolds in the classroom. In the meantime, I don’t do this often, but I wanted to share some updates here on the blog.
I want to congratulate my colleague, friend, and co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory & Practice, Dr. Leeanne Bell McManus, on her promotion last night from associate professor to full professor. She was the lead on our textbook project, and Chip and I couldn’t have done it without her guidance and expertise. She is also loved by her students, and she oversees Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Honor Society. Next year, she’ll be planning the Eastern Communication Association Conference in Pittsburgh. See you there!
Walking for Our Dear Ms. Noya
Tonight, beginning at 5 p.m., we will walk for our dear colleague and friend, Chris Noya, at Relay for Life at Stevenson University for the American Cancer Society. Chris is battling cancer and is fighting her way through chemotherapy. We are all praying for her recovery, and are excited to raise some money for her team and this worthy cause.
California is Calling!
My son is off to California next week to participate in the National DECA competition. He, along with his two friends, came in first place in States in the category of Advertising (I promise, I had nothing to do with this project! They did it all themselves!), so they, along with other students will travel to California and have a ton of fun. I’m so excited for them. My son is also driving now, and got his first job working at a golf center. Now I can borrow money from him. 🙂
Dancing with My Little Star
My daughter, after a year of perseverance, lots of practice, and hard work, made the dance team at the high school. She didn’t make it her first year as a freshman, but it goes to show you that if you put your mind to something and work at it (along with taking lots of ballet classes, which she admittedly doesn’t love–jazz, hip-hop, and modern are her favorites), you have the ability to power through. I am so happy for her!
VillaFest on Sunday, April 23
I’ll be selling and signing books on Sunday at VillaFest at Stevenson University from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The event is open to anyone who would like to help us raise money for the Cool Kids Campaign. It’s a great time to reconnect with alums, hang out with your fellow students, and dunk one of your favorite faculty or staff members in the Dunk Tank. Hope to see you there!
Book Club Visits
I’m open for Book Club visits if your Book Club decides to read Inn Significant; I am also happy to Skype into your Book Club if you live far away. I spent Monday evening with a group of lovely ladies talking about my novel, novels in general, kids, life, writing, and Joanna Gaines’s great style. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, there are some new reviews up on Amazon, so check them out to see if you’d like to read my latest!
Teaching a New Course Next Fall
I’ll be teaching a wholly different type of course this Fall in the School of Design at Stevenson University. It’s tentatively entitled “Design Center,” and the course will function as a full-service agency capable of integrated marketing communication. We will be working with an outside client, and as well, we will be responsible for formulating and branding the center with a new name, logo, and identity. I’m getting excited about it.
I am looking forward to four things this summer: reading, writing, lounging by the pool, and trying my hand at golf. I figure since my son and husband love golf so much, I might as well take a swing at it. This will be interesting, ladies and gentleman. We will also take a family vacation, and I look forward to snapping lots of photos for my Instagram account this summer. I love taking photographs and playing with photography.
Until next time, thank you for reading Steph’s Scribe.
With only a couple of weeks remaining before the return to school and classes, do you have time to squeeze in one more book this summer?
I’m currently reading In Defense of the Princess, a nonfiction account of one woman’s affinity and respect for the princess culture. As a fan as well, I wanted to read something that wasn’t fiction since that’s my typical go-to type of book. I wanted to go out of my normal genre. So far, I’m really enjoying it.
But my favorite quote about summer reading is the following:
“Summer is a great time to expand our horizons as readers and to try something new, either a new genre, or a new author, or a new topic, or a new place to read.” -Pam Allyn
So, if you haven’t picked up something different this summer, why not do it before it ends?
We all have our pool and beach bags, and what we keep inside them is still important as we hit the midway point of summer. Summer is not over—there are many more weeks of it ahead of us, and it’s as important to take care of and protect our hair, skin, and eyes now as we did when we first started getting a little sun on our bodies.
One of my favorite purchases has been my Scout bag. I love that it’s water resistant and has ample room to carry all the aforementioned items in it. The pool I belong to is about two blocks away, and I often ride my bike there (hence the basket). Wearing sunblock (I prefer 50 or more on the body) that is waterproof is important if you like to get in the water a lot. Sunglasses are a necessity to both protect your eyes and help you from not squinting all day long.
Water is imperative for our bodies, especially when we can easily become dehydrated by the hot sun and humidity. Be sure to keep drinking to help keep you healthy.
Other items not pictured include lip balm with SPF, your cell phone (though, really, it’s summer…try not to pay as much attention to that thing as you normally do), and a hat to protect your hair, especially if your hair is color-treated.
Lastly, no bag is complete without a good book in it. That’s what summertime is all about: rejuvenation, relaxation, and reading a good book.
What else do you keep inside your bag besides those I’ve mentioned?
In a little over a week, I’ll be back on campus teaching my fall college courses. Some people may dread the thought of work, but not me. I always look forward to the fall and going back to school, to using my brain, to being in the classroom, and to seeing young, eager minds ready to work.
BUT I’VE HAD A WONDERFUL SUMMER.
Yes. I have had one of the best summers of my life. I have enjoyed every tick-toc moment of it. Even as I’m writing this, I am sitting on my new back porch working from home, and taking a quick break from researching and writing a textbook to write this post. My kids are happy and we are all about to head to the pool for movie night. We have great friends and neighbors, live in an active neighborhood, my parents are a short trip down the road, and we are closer to my in-laws. We’ve had two great vacations, and we really have no complaints at all.
Summer, you have been good to us. We are thankful.
One of the most wonderful perks of being a professor is the time it allows me to be home in the summers with my children. I love spending time with them and watching them grow; I enjoy spending time with them and their friends as we will do shortly at the pool; and I love having those “nothing” days as we had on Tuesday when it rained and flooded our neighborhood.
And although I do work a lot from home and spend a great deal of time writing, I make the time for them—always.
Fall is about to move in, life is going to go back to being more hectic, and school is about to start. But, we’ve got a few days until then, and I’m going to enjoy every last minute of this beautiful summer.
This hasn’t happened to me in a while, but I’m suffering from writer’s block. Even writing my blog posts has become more difficult. I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the throws of summer and life has revolved around entertaining my kids, but finding time to sit at the computer and write has become challenging.
I’m in constant motion—entertaining, taking the kids to the pool and visiting with friends, going on vacations, and trying to keep my kids grounded with a little bit of schoolwork this summer are full time jobs. Trying to fit in writing a syllabus and organizing for the fall semester, along with trying to get novel #2 rolling, is a challenge.
In fact, the novel I was working on and had gotten about 12,000 words into, I just tossed aside. I’m not sure if I like it. I want the follow-up novel to BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE to please me as much as that one did. My gut instinct right now is that I’m not in love with it, not like I was in love with Michael, Annabelle, and Vivi.
I’m going to say it once and only once: I was wrong about swim team. Until this year, I had been unwilling to make the commitment to the sport. However, with a push from my friend and my husband, I changed my ways and stepped up to the plate. I was wrong about a few things, but I was also right about some, including the following:
I wasn’t wrong to say that swim team chips away at your free time.
I wasn’t wrong to say that you spend from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at swim meets every Saturday for six weeks.
And, I wasn’t wrong to say that it’s quite a commitment—with everyday practices—right up there with your child playing baseball and softball, two sports without timed clocks.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a glutton for punishment.
Yes, all of these aforementioned things are true.
However, I will bow down to Currie and my husband, and now say that I was wrong about five things in particular that I hadn’t taken into consideration as a person who never participated as a kid on swim team, but rather on a tennis team:
Swim team connects you to your pool’s community.
Swim team allows your children to make new friends.
Swim team builds confidence in your children.
Swim team keeps you in fantastic shape.
Swim team keeps you busy and helps fight summer boredom.
Those five reasons are worth dealing with the following: the lack of sleep; the long Saturday mornings trying to wake yourself up with coffee; the heat and staying cool under the shade of your friends’ tent; the dripping, teeming, ridiculous rain that leaves you wet and cold and shivering, and your children frozen to the bone; and the time it requires of you as other things must fall by the wayside.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: THE THINGS WE DO FOR OUR CHILDREN.
And I’m so happy I finally relented and had a successful swim team season. I’m so proud of my kids and what they’ve accomplished. They’ve competed, won, lost, and showed some true grit. They’ve made new friends and built confidence in themselves. And as an added bonus, my husband and I have made some new friends through it.
Swim team is over for now.
But, as Arnold Schwarznegger says, “I’ll be back.”
Don’t get me wrong—I love my children. I can hug them and squeeze them and kiss them all day long. They are spoiled rotten by a doting mother who loves them to pieces.
Like many of you, part of my job as Summer Mommy Extraordinaire is to come up with ideas for the day, because, quite frankly, it’s mandatory in my summertime line of work. The question “Mommy, what are we doing today?” is inevitable every morning as we eat breakfast and watch another rerun of “Sponge Bob,” my daughter’s favorite. It’s my responsibility to come up with the daily summer game plan.
You see, if I’d known the full scope of the job description of Summer Mommy Extraordinaire, I would have prepared a little better. No one trains you to be part manager, chauffeur, caddie (yes, I carry their crap everywhere), domestic engineer, chef superb, playmate (and I don’t mean one of Hef’s, though if that were part of the job description, I would not have qualified), innovator, tutor, and disciplinarian.
By the end of August, we’re all done. We’ve played, we’ve swum, we’ve had a Dominoes competition, we’ve vacationed, the kids have visited their grandparents, I’ve encouraged them to write an essay and read, and now, we are left twiddling our thumbs.
My son and daughter are both changing schools this year. This may make some kids nervous; mine are anxiously excited.
“What should I wear on the first day?” my son has asked me. This is unbelievably ironic coming from a kid who, most of the time, can be found in Under Armour shorts and shirts. I fight with him about clothes more than I do with my daughter.
“I’m excited to ride a bus,” my daughter said. Okay. That’s not so bad. I’ll take that, though I’d really like to hear her say something like, “I can’t wait for my teacher to show me how to conjugate verbs, diagram modifiers, and learn more about fractions.” But we take what we can get.
We have reached the end of summer. Our brains have turned to mush. We haven’t thought much about anything but tennis and baseball lessons, hanging out with our friends, enjoying being outside, visiting with family, and playing with our Harry Potter wands (“Stupify!”) as we plowed through all the movies over the course of our summer break.
It’s time to go back to school and get those brain cells moving again. My duties as Summer Mommy Extraordinaire must be shelved. Stick a fork in me; I’m done.
Because it won’t be long until we hear those hair-raising words again in ten short months: “Mommy, what are we doing today?”
Next year, I’ll be more prepared.
Stephanie Parrillo Verni
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