One week. That’s the last bit of my summer before I start cracking open teacher guides and scrawling out lesson plans.

I was going to make homemade jam from the hundreds of pounds of berries I was planning on picking.

I was going to read three novels in Spanish, develop abdominal muscles, and swim in a cold lake on a summer day.

I was going to camp in a yurt, make a pinata with the kids, and call my college friends.

And all we did was move. We packed, tossed, gave away, and lifted everything we own. Now our garage is littered with boxes and random tools. I still can’t find the hole puncher.

But the view out this window is lovely. The hydrangeas are in bloom and we did manage a few picnics on our new deck. We went swimming at sunset today in the local pool and we picked a handful of blueberries in the backyard. I’ve watched one telenovela and studied a dozen Spanish verbs.

And that will have to do. Because expectations aren’t always our friends–especially when we’re raising small children. If we get caught up in what we could be doing, we forget about that magical thing happening right in front of our eyes. And who’s to say that my kids’ random dragonfly sighting in our backyard isn’t more exotic than any expectation on my list this summer?

Maybe our work as eco-conscious parents is to remember that the “progress, not perfection” mantra we use in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is about more than just the planet. It’s about our ability to sustain ourselves as parents, partners, and friends during this crazy-wonderful era of our lives. I shall also try to remember that this phase of parenting will fly by before I even have time to realize it’s gone.

And my expectations for sleep, order, and homemade jam will have to be downgraded considerably. (Can you really buy “homemade” jam? The company above is based close to our home. I may have to settle for something made in my region instead of something in my kitchen…)

Have you lived your summer dreams this year? Have you also found that you must shift your goals dramatically to accommodate a family lifestyle?