Dear Privileged Adults -- Summer Sucks

As a child I loathed summer. Our vacation was a day at the county I listened to my parents fight about how they couldn't afford it....while crossing my fingers that our car didn't break down on the way there. Not very luxurious. I didn't grow up in a time where I could get a free lunch at the local elementary school. Even if I had, we were a one car family. There would have been no way for our mom to have taken us. Summer was spent in our back yard making memories as siblings and extended family that I wouldn't trade for the world, but in no way would I classify it as a season I looked forward to. 

As a grown-up? I absolutely love summer. However, at this stage of my life I would put myself in the "privileged adult" category.

I am by no means living it up, but we have a budget that allows us to pay most of our bills without fuss. I have two vehicles that start when I go to my driveway. They have working AC to combat the Indiana humidity. I can fill each of their tanks when needed. It wasn't the end of the world to call the AC repair man out twice in one weekend in May. I have a fridge with food. My grandma bought each of my children a handful of summer outfits to help with weather shift and their growing legs. While my current gig isn't glamorous, I have been able to work from home this summer. I wasn't scrambling to find child care for my kiddos during the break from school. Compared to how many Americans live...I would call those things a privilege. If I am not careful I can quickly forget how hard summer can be.

You may think what I listed in the paragraph above is basic or essential, but a majority of families don't have those things. You see, summer isn't a fruitful, fun, or cute time for many people in our communities. 

It isn't fun for the single parent working two jobs taking on a third to afford childcare during the summer months. 

It isn't fun for the elderly person who can't afford to replace their window AC. 

It isn't fun for the kid who was terrified for school to let out because they will have to spend the summer with an abusive parent. 

It isn't fun for the homeless parent you sneer at as they attempt to figure out how to find a place to live with their kids before the next school year starts. 

It isn't fun for the newly single person attending a wedding every other weekend. 

It isn't fun for the mom whose husband is working 12+ hours a day trying to maintain her sanity among dirty diapers and the Instagram highlight reels flooding her stories. 

It isn't fun for the human trying to stretch their food stamps to include an extra meal every day for 10 weeks. 

It isn't fun for the person who is living in their vehicle. 

It isn't fun for the kid trying to help care for their younger siblings as they watch their friends ride by on their bikes all afternoon.

It isn't fun for the friend who was expecting a summer baby that went to heaven as she attends baby showers and Meet-the-Baby-BBQ's. 

Take this post however you will, but I promise it is nothing more than a friendly reminder. 

A reminder to help you and I appreciate what we have this summer as we compare our "lack" to that blogger on a summer abroad. A reminder to think before you hit publish on that humble brag post gushing over how fun summer is...that it isn't fun for everyoneFor some this season brings hurt. There is no quick fix for poverty, homelessness, infertility, broken relationships, or any other issue your neighbor may be fighting. I'm not shaming you because you have a pool and/or working AC. You aren't a horrible person if you don't identify to much of what I listed above. I'm not asking you to attempt to be another person's savior. Actually, I'm screaming DO NOT attempt to be a "savior", because that can get ugly real fast

Take this whole "love one another" thing seriously. I'm not perfect at it. I'm literally the biggest work in progress. But, I am working on making a conscious effort to recognize the needs of others that I may not be aware of as I sit at the splash pad. I consistently pray that God will knock down any pride that I have on a daily basis. The more He does, the most I am convinced that "loving my neighbor" was never supposed to look like a burden, a battle of egos, or rocket science. 

This week when you are at the store, spend an extra $10 bucks on S'mores ingredients or freezer pops. Drop them off to the kids down the street. Make a double dinner one night to share. (Earlier this week I posted a few recipes that don't require you to do much cooking at all.) Keep a few $5 gift cards to the local grocery store or deli to hand to that homeless person on your morning commute. Ask how your SAHM friend is doing. Take her for coffee (yes, most moms chasing kids around all day will gladly drink coffee any time, haha) or a beer when her husband gets off work. Offer to be a "plus one" for the friend you know is struggling to smile through weddings...and be a wedding date that can't be topped! Instead of selling your kids clothes on Facebook or in a yard sale, give them away. Wave at the parent chasing kids in the yard. Offer to accompany them with grown up conversation on their porch or a walk. 

Most of all, take a moment to step out of your comfort zone and SMILE at someone. One of the biggest gifts you can give to another human is to know that they are seenNo scripture or Biblical references needed here. Regardless of your background or faith -- get up and love on purpose today. 

Busy Summer? Put Your Slow Cooker to WORK.

Unless you live in Northern Indiana, you are probably aware that summer has arrived ;) You may or may not know, but I am the slow cooker QUEEN. I own 4 of those bad's an obsession! In fact, we get so much use out of ours during the summer that we haven't refilled our propane tank since 2017! #WINNING 

I love summer. I love hot weather. I love squeezing every minute out of the sunshine that I can. I also enjoy cooking, but summer > cooking. The last thing Doug or I want to do is stand at the stove or grill creating a meal from start to finish. We would rather be playing tennis in our driveway (we classy like that), catching up with friends, or going down to the local elementary playground with the girl tribe. 

I're probably yelling at the screen telling me the crock pot is for soups and beef and noodles. I promise it isn't just for fall and winter comfort food. One solution that we have found fits into the fun of summer has been to set up "bars" -- themed around whatever is in our crock pot. Not only does it make shopping for the week easy, but the girls have so much fun building their plates themselves.

We love the way this shredded chicken turns out for a taco bar. We are the only ones in our house who like chicken tacos, so in our mini crock pot we make a pound of ground beef for the kids. The slow cooker is my absolute FAVORITE way to cook ground beef for tacos. You have to try it!  We cut most recipes in half, but if there are leftovers we either freeze, save for lunches, or plan a "nacho bar" for later in the week. Here are other ideas to use up leftovers.

Baked Potato night is also a fav. Yep -- we LOVE them in the crock pot! It does make the potatoes softer if you rub a bit of olive oil on them before you place them in foil. Don't skip that step! The girls like to top theirs with chili and broccoli. Next to the big mama I have the mini going to warm up the chili. Seriously, the 2 qt crock pot is a game changer if you don't have one. Amy's is our go to!  To make broccoli prep faster, I buy the steam bags from the freezer section. Other ideas are bacon, cheese, chives, etc! Sweet potatoes work great too

We make this Sausage + Peppers recipe at least once a month. This is one of few meals that I can get everyone in our house to eat. The best part? It's even better reheated. We usually to serve this over a bed of lettuce with some rice or garlic bread. If your family doesn't mind some heat, I recommend throwing in a small jar of drained banana peppers

Last but not least, we love fresh peaches and this crock pot peach cobbler is bomb. Not quite as good as cooking a cobbler from scratch, but tit is a close second :D

Let me know some of your favorite ways to use the slow cooker year round! 

I sent a survey to you amazing people that stop by readers earlier this season. After writing about a broad variety of topics for 6 months, I wanted to ask what you wanted to read. I was surprised 82% of you responded you would like this space to share more lifestyle posts. I don't consider myself to be much of a "lifestyle" writer, but I am happy to share what helps keep my life sane from time to time :) 

PS: These are our all time favorite to-go containers to pack up those leftovers!

PSS: I really wanted to type "werk" in the title, but ya know.....