We are calling the summer of 2015 the “summer of the slow down.”  I say we, my family and I. We have made an intentional effort to take a step back from our crazy busy lives and chill out a bit.

“Well, how is it going, you ask?”  Getting used to the pace has been strange but nice. I admit I am terrible at sitting, living in the moment and relaxing. I feel like and I have to go one-hundred miles per hour. Especially with kids, right! Some of us can relate.

Well, this has been an adjustment. The first step was when our daughter decided not to play competitive softball. What? No summer traveling sports, what will we do? 

Our daughter is 17, going into her senior year of high school. She was ready to have a summer of freedom, get a job and hang out with friends. Her goals were to work on her ACT score, prep herself for college and entrance exams. We said, “Okay, we get it.” Sold. There was a sense she just didn’t have her heart in competitive sports anymore. She was burned out plus the hundreds of dollars we were spending on travel, hotel and food. Yikes! Well, let’s just say, it has been nice on the budget too.

With travelling ball out of the picture, my husband took a step back from his coaching responsibilities and decided to not coach at the varsity level next year. He opted for the middle school football. Of course, the commitment to the kids is there, just maybe a slower pace. Our son runs track in the winter, and what a blessing for my husband to be able to watch him for the first time during the indoor season.

Good decisions and good timing. We needed to focus more on our priorities. Now, this is not for everyone but was just the right fit for us. My husband and I are soon to be empty nesters, so we viewed this summer was our test.

So, what the heck do you do with all your time, you ask? Easy. Here is a “bucket” list and beyond of how we have spent our summer days and nights.

  • Patio sitting/patio dining: we love to cook and bbq and almost every night, dine outside and together. Enjoying the weather, enjoying nature and each other’s company.
  • Took a family vacation: Our family of four. Off to the mountains, we hiked and took in an Ed Sheeran concert at Red Rocks. Summer highlight.
  • Baseball: we love baseball and we enjoyed Memorial Field several times. It is a great atmosphere and a great way to visit with friends.
  • Golfing: okay my golf game was a bit rusty but we have enjoyed playing again. I used to be on a league years ago. After dusting off the clubs, we are back on the course.
  • Writing: I am writing again. It is a passion of mine. I used to write for the Sioux City Journal years ago. I have my own journal. So, catching up with my journal  has been a blessing.
  • Yard work: If you have seen our yard you know we have big task. Planting, weeding, etc. It is actually therapeutic for me to dig my hands in the dirt.
  • Outdoor Concerts: who doesn’t love outdoor concerts in the summer and chilling with friends! One of my favorite things to do.

Lots of missions and goals accomplished but mostly a chance to spend time together. A chance to  share our day, relax and slow the pace down. It may be a taste of the empty nest years, a little bitter sweet but life goes on.

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?