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Jennifer Allwood | 30 Days of Prayer

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Summer is winding down.  We are literally days away from our 3 kiddos starting their new school year. And all the sudden, I’m feeling the end of summer scramble coming on.  How can we squeeze out one more trip to the pool?  One last trip out of town?  One last sleep over?  One last book?  Oh wait.  I forgot…. my kids don’t like to read.  And it pains me.  As an avid reader, I want them to LOVE reading. And yet, they don’t.

So, I found myself returning a pile of my kid’s unread books to the library the other day because I just can’t handle another late fee (insert hanging of head).  It felt like the drive of shame you guys.  I was returning UNREAD books.  And I was getting that “oh crap, I haven’t made them read enough this summer” feeling.  Please tell me I’m not alone?

At the start of every summer I vow to enforce the “you are reading for 30 minutes daily – no ifs, ands or buts about it” rule.   I sound so… firm and “parent-y” when I say it.  And some summers we hit that daily reading goal about 57% of the time.  Winner winner chicken dinner.  But this summer was more like, oh……. 9% if I’m being totally honest.

Some summers I’ve been an absolute rock star and done things like the ABCs of summer.  THIS was not one of those summers.  No, this summer was more like a survival camp for mom.  I was just trying to keep my head above water.

As usual, I started out the summer strong.  Until about day 3 of summer vacation.  And that’s when our house gets all willy-nilly.  And rules and structure and good intentions pretty much go out the window.  I work from home most of the time and the truth is, a lot of days I’m just trying to get my crap done while making sure my little people stay alive. God bless it.

So last night I started to feel all craptastic about myself.  I started comparing myself to of all the “good moms” I know who nailed the whole daily reading thing on like 89% of the days.  I started wondering if reading the words on the Xbox or Mindcraft or Flipagram could “count” towards their reading minutes just don’t I don’t feel so darned guilty about my failing at the reading enforcement.

And then I decided, ….. I’m not doing that to myself.  I’m not going out feeling bad this summer. They may not have read much this summer, but they did tons of other kick butt, EDUCATIONAL things.  And so, THIS is what I’d like to say to you other hot mess moms and to my kid’s teachers as I get ready to send them back to school.


Dear precious teachers,

I’m sending my kids back to you this year a little less polished than perhaps I have in past years.  They may be a little rusty in the whole “reading department” thing.  I had every.good.intention this summer of making them read daily, practice a few math problems and do something worldly like visit a museum so that I would feel good about my parenting skills.  But very little of that happened.  In fact, I think they read twice.  And we didn’t practice any math, but I’m relatively certain they can still spell “math” and for that…. I think I should still get some parenting points. No museums happened.   Zilch.  Zero.  They may have watched the movie “Night at the Museum”?  We may have passed a museum on the way to ice cream.  Does any of that count???

So listen teachers, they didn’t read much this summer, but I want to tell you some other “educational” things that they did in hopes of redeeming myself a bit.



PicMonkey Collage animals

They cared for (but later gave away) 2 hermit crabs.  The crab taught them alot about cause and effect.  When you lose a crab in the house, Mom will freak out.  There was a video for evidence HERE.  My voice is a little tense, but this real life people.   I’m just #keepinitreal .

They also house-sat a rabbit AND a fish. It was pretty much “Wild Kingdom” up in here.  They observed frogs mating (or being “stuck together” in Ava’s words), so they pretty much studied science.  And sex-ed.  I’m sparing you the photos.  So they didn’t read much, but they nailed it in the study of animals.  And that’s like a lesson in “zoology”, right?





They didn’t read much, but the boys learned how to do their own laundry.  And they made their own lunch about 5 out of every 7 days this summer.  So it was pretty much like a Home – Ec class.  Wait! Do they still call it “Home Ec” ???? Or perhaps it’s referred to as  “Family Studies”.  Whatever it is….. someday, 2 wives are going to be sooooooo glad that my boys can do these things for themselves.  And I’m going to remember that they learned to do laundry on the summer they forgot how to read.   So yeah, I’m pretty much nailing it as a mother-in-law already.



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They played outside.  ALOT.  They swung from trees.  And they biked in the rain (because danger is our middle name).  They had shaving cream wars.  And learned that shaving cream does NOT just “go away” in the grass. No, it’s still present 2 days later.   I don’t think there is a class for any of that, but we are labeling all of that under “random fun”.  Or perhaps the shaving cream could be considered a “lab experiment”?  That’s educational, right?



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They didn’t read much, but we did take a few hikes.  One of the hikes ended up with Ava being taken to Urgent Care.  She stepped on a thorn from a locust tree. #ohAva.  And we were forced to ask a complete stranger for a ride back to our vehicle since Ava couldn’t walk the next mile with her bleeding, throbbing foot.  So the kids got a lesson in “stranger danger” and how sometimes, you just gotta trust people to be good and decent and not kill you while they drive you back to your truck.  I also had the kids google “locust trees” and “side effects from stepping on a locust thorn” as we headed to the doctor and I think reading things on google TOTALLY counts towards reading minutes.  It was like a class called Outdoor Adventures 101.  It was also a little “pre-med -ish” since they learned about drawing salves and how they pull thorns from feet.  The whole “stepping on a thorn thing” proved to be rather educational really….. at poor Ava’s expense.



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The kids helped Mom and Dad build stuff this summer.  And move Magic Brush painted stuff around.   And they crafted stuff.   It was like being in a mini woodworking course. Or an art class.  Hands on education at it’s finest!




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The kids experimented this summer with what I may refer to as “alternative sleep patterns”.  Like they stayed up way too late every night.  And they passed out pretty much wherever they were last playing that day. They also had approximately 376 sleep-overs with friends this summer.  So we were basically providing them with a “college prep” class.  Just bless it.  Bless all you moms who had your kids in bed with brushed teeth, in pajamas by 10:00 every night.  I cannnnnnnnot even relate to that.




They didn’t read much this summer, but they did celebrate Independence Day and honor the flag.  And that’s a history class y’all.




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They didn’t read much, but they did LEGOs for days. Days I tell you.  They even did a Lego CAMP.  And did you know studies show that kids who play with Legos’ score better on Math tests?  It’s true.  So teachers, my kids should totally NAIL your math classes this year.  You’re welcome.



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Speaking of camps, 2/3rds of our kids also went to church camp (I won’t tell you which kiddo was a slacker).  And I swear our kids grew another 6 inches while they were gone (insert weeping and gnashing of teeth).  Growing closer to God always trumps reading anyway, right?



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They didn’t read much, but they met 1 of their 2 our new baby cousins.  And we traveled to Iowa to visit family 3 times. It was a family development class.  And like a driver’s ed course and “anger management” class observing how Mom kept her cool thru 28 pottie breaks and 500 questions every hour.  #keepinitreal




They didn’t read much, but they sold drinks at our lemonade stand.  This was ECONOMICS people.  And a math lesson.  It was a double major practically.

So I’m sorry teachers, they didn’t read much, but they played hard.  And there is learning in that, right? I have full trust in all of your past reading teaching to my kids and I am betting on my kids continuing to be fast learners.  I’m just praying that God will bridge my big ole’ gigantic sized reading gap from this summer.   And I’m asking you for much grace.  Cuz’ they learned a lot.  They did a lot. They had fun a lot.  But they didn’t read much.


I’m guessing about 1 out of every 3 mothers this summer 

(Mommas, listen.  We put sooooooooo much pressure on ourself to make sure the kids have a great summer.  And to also keep a clean house while they are partying like miniature rock stars.  And to include make sure they are eating vegetables on a daily basis.  And to make sure they still learn something.  And and and and.  And it keeps going. Do NOT disregard mommas that they HAVE learned something this summer.  And maybe this was a summer that your family just needed to learn to unwind.  Or to bond as a family.  Or to learn grace.  Some summers you have it and some summers you don’t.  They did not die and whatttttttttver your summer was, it was enough.   And I salute you.  If you didn’t read much this summer either, I’d love to hear about it!  Not to celebrate mediocrity but to let each other know that we are not alone! )

Much love,




One Comment

  • HStarr says:

    hi Jennifer, I agree with Brenda, above, you ARE a great writer! I enjoy your blog, but I really enjoyed this article. There are so many pressures on kids/moms these days, but I do see the value in just playing, and visiting family! It seems to be a lost “art”, if you will. I am there with you when you say you have very good intentions to your children reading daily. Fact is, we don’t get enough time with our kids, so make the best of it when you can! You did a nice job of portraying a “real” summer day being a valuable and educational experience! Thank you for #keepinitreal !

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