“I just CAN’T with you right now,” I say in my strained, hoarse voice. My son is still awake and doing his best to avoid getting into bed. He’s been mastering bedtime-avoidance since he was a baby, and nearly 8 years later, the excuses are better, but the behavior is essentially the same. My reaction is positive for only so long; once 9 pm hits, Mama Bear disappears, and Mama Beast unleashes. My hulk-like transformation is not something I’m proud of, yet no matter how much guilt I feel after he finally dozes off, that Beast returns every night and I CAN’T all over again.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, this awful contraction has become such a huge part of my vocabulary and self-talk lately. There just seems to be so many things I can’t do…
I can’t finish a single load of laundry within a 24 hour period.
I can’t get both of my toddlers on the same nap schedule.
I can’t handle one more minute of this threenager tantrum.
I can’t keep the backseat of my car even remotely clean.
I can’t figure out what I want to do with this blog.
I can’t finish a sentence or a thought or a………………………
Yeah, I could go on for hours. Unfortunately, “can’t” is easier said than done. Most of the time, I have no choice but to do what I feel like I can’t.
Thankfully, just as this negative talk started to completely take over my life, I found myself asking the librarian where I could find the book, Love Does by Bob Goff. I have no idea where I first heard of this book or why I thought of it randomly while at the circulation desk asking whether Peppa Pig books are all written by the same author. All I know is that this particular book with its spectacular title was placed in my path on purpose. Bob Goff’s unbelievable stories and honest perspective have been such awesome reminders that love does even when I feel like I can’t. In a chapter titled, Hearing Aid, Goff writes, “…it seems that what God does most of the time when He has something to say is this… He doesn’t pass us messages, instead He passes us each other.” On my most challenging days, my love for the people placed in my life is what keeps me going.
In an effort to recognize what love does and to finalize my summer bucket list, I took a tally of what my family and I actually accomplished from our list. We completed 20 out of 39 bucket list items, some of which were squeezed in after school officially started. That’s a score of just over 50%; it’s not necessarily a grade I’d strive for, but I’ve decided to look at this as a win and recognize that sometimes love does. And sometimes, I just CAN.
Checking it off…
Johnson City Science Mill-
Highlights: explore at your own pace; outdoor and indoor exhibits; not crowded on weekdays; an affordable café; and interactive experiments
– This museum is really geared toward school age children (probably 2nd grade+).
– Allow plenty of time for outside play and exploration.
– Prepare to get involved, build, and experiment along with your children. Many of the interactive exhibits will require adult assistance.
Highlights: yummy barbecue, multiple shaded playgrounds for all ages, casual spot for families to meet up, occasional live music
– Wear bug spray, drink plenty of water, and watch for ants. All of the seating is outdoors … on picnic tables … in central Texas. Enough said.
– The three meat plate can feed a family of four (if you’re not famished upon arrival), and the coffee porter on tap is simply divine.
Austin Nature and Science Center-
Highlights: FREE!; two indoor discovery rooms; a huge outdoor sandpit to dig for dinosaur fossils; hiking trails; located in the heart of Zilker park; mostly stroller-friendly
– Wear bug spray, drink plenty of water, and watch for ants, bees, wasps, hornets, etc. Most of it is outdoors … in a naturally wooded area … in central Texas. Enough said. =)
– The info desk has a lot of great information and can help guide your visit.
– Pack a lunch and picnic next to the frog pond.
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum-
Highlights: Free admission on the first Sunday of each month; three levels packed with unique Texas history; explore at your own pace; located near the Capitol and downtown so you can plan a whole day around it.
– This museum is meant for older children and adults. There are few interactive exhibits but a lot of interesting artifacts and information.
– A new exhibit is being built that will be more interactive and will include a huge trading boat that patrons can board.
– If you’re going on the free Sunday, there are children’s activities in the lobby for the first few hours. This will be a busier time to go but allows your children to do arts and crafts. If you go later in the afternoon, you forgo the crafts, but the museum is much less crowded.