Friday, July 6, 2012

Simple Summer Fun

This week has been crazy!  We’ve had visitors, picnics, Fourth of July celebrations, and a lot of rain…that all equals 3 tired boys, one messy house, and one overwhelmed mommy!  I started feeling crabby, which is never a good feeling.  It's an easy one to get though when you feel like all you do is serve others day in and day out.  I've been thinking and reading a lot about joy lately, which is why a quote on friend's facebook page caught my eye:

The feeling of joy begins with the action of thanksgiving.  –Tonia Peckover

Here's an excerpt from my journal about joy:

But joy is a smile inside our heart knowing that what we hope for will come to be, because what we hope for is true.  Joy is a inner sigh of relief knowing that the pain that we endure is for a specific purpose. 
Motherhood is tough.  There are bad days.  There is a need to discipline those cute little faces.  There are tantrums, messes, bad attitudes, exhaustion.  There is uncomfortability, sacrifice, and very little room for self.  But all this is to produce little men and women who grow up to be big men and women who will serve one another, love above all else, and have life experiences that shape them into their callings.  I'm always worried that I'm not doing enough for my kids, but if I take time to actively thank God for them, take time to proactively plan our days, and take time to reflect on what we've done, I indoubtedly receive a huge dose of joy!  Here's a little reflection on my week and this summer to stir up that joy in my heart.
Here’s some fun things we did this week with the kids that I am thankful for:

  • We made strawberry soup and veggie wraps (veggies from a farmer’s market we visited last week) and had a picnic outside.      (*Recipe:  blend 2 cups fresh strawberries, 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 cup orange juice, and 1/2 cup sugar. Refrigerate for at least 1 hr. before serving)

  • We made fresh squeezed lemonade and watermelon juice ice cubes.  We waited to drink it until daddy got home and we all had an impromptu special time together.   (*Recipe: dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup warm water.  Add 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice...about 5 medium lemons...and fill the rest of a 2 quart pitcher with water.  Crush watermelon and pour into ice cube mold. Freeze and enjoy!)

  • We had a dance party (which we do a lot!)
  • We made our own “wipeout” obstacle course in the cool basement.
  • We took turns doing silly things to make the baby laugh.
  • We went to a picnic, played with other kids, and talked with other grown ups!
  • We made (all together) a banana toffee pie with home made whip cream…the boys were amazed at how simple whip cream is to make!

  • We ate the pie all up (which I was thankful for!)
  • My husband showed the boys how to change oil on the car…while I didn’t let them crawl underneath because I was nervous, they handed daddy tools and asked a lot of questions!
  • We watched fireworks from our backyard and watched the boys play with sparklers and catch fireflies.
  • We played baseball outside one morning until it got too hot, then came in and watched a movie together in the air conditioning.
  • We played with our kitchen set all together and I was served an interesting combination of cantaloupe with ketchup and cauliflower pizza.
  • We made sidewalk paint and got messy outside. (*Recipe: in a large mixing bowl, mix 1/2 cup cold water with 1/2 cup cornstarch until it's thick like paint.  Add food coloring and store in a jar with lid.)
  • We played with our rainbow rice and learned about measuring and fractions.   (*Recipe: mix 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol with food coloring in a ziplock bag.  Add rice and mix.  Pour onto a sheet of wax paper and put in sun for about an hour or two until dry.  Make as many colors as you like and pour into a container for measuring fun!)

  • We read all of our new library books at least two times.
And Friday nights are always family night…tonight, we are watching a movie with air popped popcorn!

And here’s some other fun things we’ve done this summer:

  • We visit a new park (or two) every week!  *Home school tip: we made a chart of what we like and don’t like about each park so we can compare and contrast them
  • We found tadpoles at a park and watched them for quite some time.  Afterwards, we were very curious about tadpoles and read a few books about them.
  • We took our cameras outside and took lots of pictures of things that interested us.
  • We visited a couple nature centers and a planetarium.

  • We look for the moon every night and talk about it’s different phases.
  • We made banana bread together.
  • My 4 year old has become extremely interested in cooking, so every week we plan our menu together and he helps me cook a lot!
  • We have a picnic with our toddler every week as the older ones play t-ball.
  • We cook out a few times a week, and the boys are learning all about how daddy grills.
  • We collect rocks and decorate them…we have quite the collection!
  • We go to farmers markets (or the Westside Market in Cleveland) and try out new fruits and vegetables…at this point, we’re trying to do new things with the fruits and veggies since we’ve tried most of them!
  • Daddy and the two older boys had a sleepover/campout in their room…complete with lots of giggles.
  • We planned a muppet-themed birthday party for my four year old and made lots of our own decorations, including a spider piñata.  We also had fun coming up with a themed menu including rainbow connection fruit kabobs, Miss Piggies in the blanket, Party Like an Animal Pasta Salad,, Swedish Chef Meatballs, Kermit's Swamp Punch, Pepe's caliente corn salsa, and a snack table with popcorn, marshmallows, and Fozzy Gummy Bears...we had a blast!  Oh, and check out this cake that my sister made!!  I could seriously do a blog post all on this party!

  • We often play with squirt guns, water balloons, a water table, a slip n’ slide, or the good old fashioned hose : )
  •  We paint and play with play dough outside.
  • We are working on our first movie together (it takes some time when you have to keep stopping for the baby and toddler!)
  • We practiced a dance for one of our favorite songs and performed it for daddy after dinner one night.
  • We let the boys go to bed with glow bracelets one night…that’s it…but boy, did they think it was pretty great!
  • We go to the library…a lot!
  • We make up our own games to play and then challenge each other (think Minute to Win It)
  • We had a toy car wash.
  •  We planted a garden (it’s not doing so well though!)
  • We fed some ducks…and watched our toddler almost run into the pond!
  •  We’ve had many play dates with new and old friends.
  •  We’ve had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows.
  • We play with legos…a lot!

Not bad for halfway through the summer…there are many more things on my bucket list, and I can’t wait to experience them.  Summers are definitely different as a mom of 4 little ones.  It’s not as carefree as it used to be, but it’s still pretty magical!  Summer's only half let's all get out there and have some fun!  And remember, even if life gets messy, loud, or stressful, let yourself experience joy and let out a little sigh in your heart...what you're doing right now, no matter what it is, has purpose! 

What do you and your family do for summer fun, indoors or out?


  1. You are an AMAZING mommy!!! Love your sweet family!

  2. You will never regret making all these memories... I did so much with my boys when they were little, taking advantage of almost all opportunities that came my way for fun and adventures, and now I am SO glad. No regrets about anything except not writing it down like this and adding photos to match like you do. AWESOMESAUCE Mama =)