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School’s officially done for me; I’ve got everything cleaned up and packed away with grades done. I’ve even started working on some curriculum change ideas for next year. Those are some areas that will be best worked on sporadically over the next few months as new ideas occur to me. I can really bear down halfway through August and put the finishing touches on them; let’s just say that some big changes are coming to an English classroom near you!

So what will I do with all this free time? Wait, what free time? The calendar is frightfully filled with activities for the kids and me. I often comment that I don’t know how people with real jobs manage this frantic summer schedule. It’s no problem for a teacher like me to leave home whenever I need to in order to bring one of the children (as well as other people’s children at times) to a specific location. But if you work until 5:00, it can be difficult to get your kids to various camps or to a ballgame that evening. Carpooling is a wonderful thing, as well as nearby grandparents, for so many people!

I mentioned last week about Jayna’s busy schedule. She’s taken to napping every afternoon since that’s a rare free time between activities. Afternoons tend to be a time I can get something done too, but, at least at the start of summer, those are things that need to be done around the house. I’ll also often be found getting a ballfield ready in the afternoon, which is a wonderful way to spend a nice summer afternoon. (Yes, I’m a bit odd.)

How about vacations? Summer is surely a time that so many people take a week off from work and find somewhere to get away from it all. However, according to some statistics on the Squeeze Pod website, 61% of Americans who take a vacation still check in with work and do some of their duties while on tour. Clearly it’s hard for us to unplug from everything; so many people have everything linked into their phone that it’s difficult to truly “get away from it all.” About 40% of employees don’t take time off for a vacation, either because they don’t have enough paid time off or that they feel the burden of a heavy workload.

If you don’t have paid time off, it can be very difficult to take a vacation. Traveling isn’t cheap, and even if you borrow a friend’s cabin by the lake for a week with no cost to you outside traveling there and the food you eat, you’re still missing out on that regular paycheck. On the flip side, the people who feel they have too much work sitting there can check the experts who say that vacations increase your energy when you return to work and give motivation to work with renewed passion upon your return.

Vacations have health benefits too, according to these studies. Your heart is the biggest beneficiary, with men who take a vacation every year 30% less likely to have a heart attack and women who don’t take a vacation eight times more likely to develop heart disease. It doesn’t have to be a big, fancy tour of Europe, but just taking a week to not go to work and to find some fun activities can be important.

That’s our plan this summer. I get very stressed out about big vacations and being away from home for a week, which would seem to counteract those heart benefits! I’m like about 60% of Americans when we do take a big vacation in that I like to fly by the seat of my pants and not plan out every detail.

We’re searching for a week when the kids’ ball seasons are done. Michelle can take a week off and we can find some fun things to do. We’d like to go to a Twins game (maybe they’ll play better by then to help make it fun), maybe hit Valleyfair, and find some other things to do that don’t involve thinking about work at all. Maybe we’ll mix it with the Steele County Fair, though by that point we’re back to school activities popping up!

In between all that, I’ve got plenty of books on my list that I’d like to get to. I also have fallen under the mystique of the great and powerful Netflix and have a number of shows queued up that I’d like to watch. I’ve made it through the first seasonof Cheers and need to watch the second season of Daredevil along with catching up on Jerry Seinfeld’s brilliant web series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. If you enjoy Seinfeld, it’s worth a look to see him interacting with other comedians; plus, he has some vintage cars on there that many of you would like to see in action.

Well, basketball camp and marching band practice are almost done, so excuse me while I don my chauffer’s hat again and head to the next item on the itinerary!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is senescence, which is the process of growing old, as in, “He could feel his senescence progressing as more frequent naps were needed in the middle of the day.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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