Memorial Day swim & barbecue

I’ve been counting down the days ’til summer for a looooong time.

I could almost taste it well before it arrived.

And as fliers about every sports camp under the sun keep finding their way into our house and e-mails about various things to get kids involved in stare me in the face I ignore them. Every one of them.

Not because I think there’s anything wrong with all that jazz…usually I like that stuff…I think it’s great to help kids expand their horizons and learn new things. But this last spring we all had our fingers in too many pies. And we’re just all ready for a break.

So I’m proclaiming this summer to be the summer where I get to take my kids back. (I can’t remember who gave me that idea, but thank you.)

Usually we at least do swim team in the summers (I love swim team), and this year as a matter of habit I went through the whole rigmarole to finagle my kids in, only to promptly pull them right back out. Not only are we going to be gone too much to make it worth our while, but basically I’m selfish and I want my kids to be home for a while.

Now, when I say we didn’t sign up for anything , that doesn’t mean we’re gonna be sitting around (much to my childrens’ chagrin). The plan is to work hard (and play hard too), and do things together. Why sign them up for a sewing class when we can do a sewing project together at home? Why send them to a volleyball camp when I can teach them myself (I kid…I don’t have coordination worth beans…sometimes I crack myself up…no volleyball this summer).

I have my summer bucket list all ready to go:

–paint the garage and put up some organizational stuff for each kid to have a “place” for their outside stuff out there (Max and I are doing this one together)
–clean out and organize all the closets (the girls and I are on task on these)
–watch Les Miserables with the older kids (check…did that last night…love that show and the message it gives)
–sew aprons and pillows with Elle and Grace (teach them to really sew)
–learn six hymns (I want my piano-playing kids to each learn six, but I’m planning to join them this year and to learn six myself)
–potty train Lucy (I’m scared)
–make a blurb book (this one has been on my summer list for the past two years, but man alive I want to do that this summer)
–have our own science camp
–Read “the care and keeping of you” with my older girls (I’ve heard it’s good and I want to open an avenue for discussion about all that stuff)
–make a volcano with my kids (I know, random, but got this kit at Marshalls and thought it’d be fun)
–teach each of my kids to cook three new meals
–do secret service projects for people we think of who might need help
–start the kids on daily “tutor time” with Lucy (I’m having them each teach her something new this summer…things like how to get dressed by herself, how to hold her pen right, etc.)
–read the parenting books I have gathering dust sitting by my bed
–take each child on a special lunch date all by themselves at least once this summer

We have a schedule all drawn up and ready to go (at least for the days when we’re home this summer).

No friends until after all morning routine stuff is done (practicing, swimming laps, goals worked on, zones cleaned, etc.)

This may sound too serious for lazy summer days, but I’m all about working hard. That makes the times when we are playing hard all the better. (And believe me, we have some fun things coming up this summer.)

At the beginning of each summer our kids set their own lists of goals (we did this growing up…another nifty idea from my parents). They work hard on them and earn something special they’ve been working hard toward at the end of the summer. They usually write these goals all dolled-up on poster boards to check off as they go.

But this year Dave is in charge. And you know what that means? It means they’re ultra-organized. He took each of the kids aside for a little interview yesterday and had them make up their goals on calendars so they could keep track of what they needed to do each day through the summer, depending on where we are physically at the time. They can earn things depending on how hard they work, and how much they get done. Their summer goals are tough, and I like that. (Have I mentioned I love Dave? Just wondering.)

Every family does summer so different. I loved reading my sister’s ideas here (she’s chock full of all kinds of great ideas…I love how she really teaches her kids). I’d love to hear other ideas people have to make the most out of my favorite time of the year: summer.


  1. WOW! great ideas and I only wish I could go back and do these with my kids…maybe my grandkids?!? Anyway, one thing that I did was have "theme night" a ouple of nights a week. We would pick a themem ie: Luau Night. Then we would spend few days looking for things to decorate the house with, costumes for us to wear, chose hawaiian music, and planned a menu. My kids (yes, even my son) and I would then make a *traditional* hawaiian dinner, we'd eat outside and we'd talk a little about their culture…they LOVED it and grew to appreciate people from around the world.

  2. I love this. In fact I was just getting ready to blog about this same thing.
    My situation is a little different in that I only have a two year old little munchkin. But I wanted to start her summers off the same way, learning, having fun together, and just plain old spending time together.
    Thanks again for all the great ideas.

  3. This looks very similar to the schedule I made for my family a few weeks ago. I purposely decided on a summer for us as well. No swim team. No craft camps. We are doing swimming lessons for the little boys, but that's a necessity here, isn't it? And we do have one music camp that will be over next week. Otherwise, it's all about us and our family. Great minds, right? See you hanging at a local pool, but not at a swim meet!

  4. Shawni,

    I've been crafting you an email but haven't finished it.

    My summer – I'm taking my kids on an 8 week road trip with my mom. I can't wait. I have more details in my email, but we leave in two weeks.

    I love your list.

    I'll email you soon!


  5. I love the book "The Care and Keeping of You", it's great.
    Potty Training Ughhhhhhh! I'm potty training a puppy right now. It's worse than training a child. Yoou can put a diaper on a child. I purposely didn't plan any activities this summer because we can't leave the puppy alone for any length of time. It's like having another infant, only the kids get to get up with him in the middle of the night. HA! I'll ask them if they still want a dog at the end of this week. Welcome to motherhood kids.

  6. Thanks for the great ideas! I am excited to try the posters with my kids. This is our first summer living in a new house in a new area and so I have some trepidation about what we are going to do.

  7. Those are SO many great ideas.
    Thanks for posting them. We have a pretty strict summerschool schedule around here. I tend to do a lot of academics, but I like how you have a lot of learning projects around it too.
    I really like the volcano one, I know my kids would love that. 🙂

  8. What types of rewards do your kids work for? This is such a great idea. I would love to have some structure to our summer but without it being overwhelming. I will have to start something like this up for this summer! I love all of your ideas and I loved the talk that you and your mom gave at Time Out For Women in Ogden. You are such an inspiration and I love reading your blog.

  9. Oh. And, get the movie "Potty Power". Catchy songs that I still remember the words to. I got it from our library but here it is on amazon so you can see what I mean.

    Also, I had a potty party bag that I kept near the bathroom. If my son pooped successfully, we would pull out the noise makers and party hats from the bag and have a potty party. He loved it.

  10. You can certainly tell who raised you! I read your mom's books when I began raising my own yahoos…and here you are, carrying on the idea that being a Mother means being with your children.
    The message is as important now as ever.

  11. i have spent the last week reading your blog after stumbling upon it via a comment someone left on Meg's whatever blog.

    you have most definately inspired me to take a good look at how i am fostering relationships with my children – the way we relate, spend time together and value each other.
    i have picked up my camera again.
    i have ordered one of your mum's books (not an easy feat here in Australia!).
    and i am formulating a plan.
    thank you ~ thank you.
    enjoy your summer! (we have just started winter here, so i love looking at all those summery photos)

  12. love the goal chart idea! Also….totally recommend the blog book (i've been using for a few years now and have liked them….but i haven't really shopped around so i have nothing to compare it to). anyway….good luck on everything this summer!!! I love summer too….but for some reason i'm always ready for school to start come september!

  13. Can't wait to see those goal charts and how everyone's doing by the time you get here. Starting about March 1st I used to count the days til I got my kids back when you were little. I guess it's in the genes!

  14. Thank you for this! I love the idea of putting the goals up on posterboard and having them earn something for working on them.

    I've been toying with different ideas for the summer, but needed something to stick them all together and make sense of them. This is it! Multumesc! 😉

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