Well, hello! I can’t believe it’s already July, past the 4th, and I haven’t blogged much! This summer is the first one since my kids were babies that I really have not devoted any time to working at all. The last few summers have been insanity as I tried to be mom and store owner, and although I miss having an income greatly, I would miss these precious moments with my kids so much more. My theme for the summer so far has been to have fun, be the best mom I can to my kids, and worry about money when they go back to school. 😉 If you’re a financial advisor, you might be cringing; however, I can promise you that my kids are so much happier this summer than they have been in the past, and that makes it completely worthwhile. I apologize for the radio silence here, but we’ve just been summering SO hard! I wanted to share this with you though as there are still a couple months of summer left and possibly my ideas for an active summer could help you. My kids are still asleep right now as I type away, so I thought I’d just pop in and catch up. If you are here for the pretty photos, well, there are a few as I have a couple of house updates, but there are mostly iphone captures. Read and scan at your own risk.
Before I go on, I do want to commend my husband who came up with an idea that has helped at our house so much this summer. He had them each write up contracts…. they have to earn any time on TV or on devices/video games. Every day, they must read for 30 minutes, make their beds, and tidy their rooms. Reading for longer will earn them extra time, and they can also earn time on electronics by playing outside, being creative, cooking or baking, cleaning, practicing their instruments, spending time with the family, running errands with us. Having these contracts in place has given them guidelines and they have been sticking to it. I cannot take credit for this idea, but it has made my life so much easier this summer and I know that they are having much more well-rounded and enjoyable vacations as well.
I once again am back in the yard sale game after feeling so uninspired to go for so long. Luckily, I have the best companion, and Emmy comes with me. She knows my style well, and has a great eye for it. Last weekend we were driving around and I passed one, and she said, “Mom, that yard sale had a cool looking wicker shelf.” We turned around, and there it was! I asked how much it was as there was no price tag and was told $2! We snatched it up and brought it home, and changed up the living room a bit.
Previously this corner held an old door with family photos. Because I removed the door, I needed somewhere to put the framed photos, so I moved them to another corner, next to our large family photo canvas and I love how it came together.
Another recent addition to the house this summer is a beautiful piece of art from Dionne at The Turquoise Iris. I will share more on it later, but for now, here it is in my dining room! I have always admired her beautiful paintings and am so excited to have one that speaks to my soul in my home.
I’ve also changed up my letter board after seeing this ridiculously funny video of a girl’s post wisdom teeth extraction conversation with her mom about ice cream shakes. The new quote comes directly from that video.
Although I mentioned that I will worry about money when the kids go back to school, I have been really careful about finding activities for us to do that don’t cost much. Of course, the best kind of free fun is to create it on our own at home. We’ve spent many evenings on the porch as a family, and that’s always my favorite summertime activity. I believe the saying is, “The family that rocket pops together, stays together.”
Our hammock is a number one hang out, and we all spend time in it reading or chatting, or just relaxing.
We recently purchased a tree swing from Amazon for Emmy who has been asking for one for years. Last year we added a trampoline to our back yard, and it’s been amazing… the kids play on it constantly. The tree swing is just another way for them to get outside and be active in our own yard. The swing we bought is a spider web style swing, and Emmy can fit on it with a friend which makes it all the more fun. We also bought a tree swing strap to hang it safely.
I will say…. getting the strap onto the limb was much more challenging than anticipated. Our yard is really sloped where we put it which made using a ladder safely a challenge. Chris ended up having to climb out onto the limb while cussing me for buying this blessed thing. 😉 However, when we heard Emmy’s giggles and squeals of delight as she swung, those memories were erased. Mostly.
During the summer I am so grateful for our yard and all that it offers. We’ve picked wild black raspberries as well as wineberries, and we’ve seen several interesting insects and creatures, including this tiny turtle.
Inside the house, we’ve also made our own fun. My kids and I have become obsessed with the Great British Baking Show, and we’ve tried many new things this summer, and baked some of our old favorites as well.
Sugar cookies are one of our go-tos, but this time I had the kids do it all…. make the recipe, roll it out, shape it, and bake it. I just removed them from the oven. Of course the most fun part was decorating, and Emmy experimented a bit and created a tie-dye look owl.
After seeing soft pretzels on the show once, Emmy wanted to make them. Again, I had her do everything to make these, minus the boiling step. We used this recipe, and they tasted divine! They don’t have a very long shelf life, so we froze most of them for later consumption.
One morning out, we stopped at the thrift shop and Emmy found a pineapple shaped cake pan. We took it home and she made a sponge cake, and then she decorated it entirely by herself! (I placed it on a cookie sheet for decorating).
Emmy has also been spending time at the easel, painting her little heart out.
Our family favorite, which is a fantastic, active and free activity is kickball. Last week, I posted on facebook and asked if anyone would be interesting in joining us for an all ages family game at the park one evening. We had a turn out of about 30-40 people, kids and parents played. It was honestly just so much fun…. the dads took it seriously and two ended up crashing and bleeding (and yes, my husband was one of those! #competitivemuch ), the moms all prayed we wouldn’t pee our pants as we ran the bases, and the kids just were happy to see one another and play outside. Another mom sent me this photo of Sawyer about to kick…
Gambrill Park is only about 10 minutes from our home, and offers several awesome hiking trails. We love taking the dogs up there and walking one of the more moderate paths. There’s a section of it that is all huge ferns and it smells like woodsy heaven to me.
Frog Eye Farm is a local pesticide-free all natural blueberry farm, and I love picking their berries! My kids honestly don’t like picking blueberries as much, and because it’s pesticide free, the gnats annoy them, but to me, the reward is worth it! Fortunately we met up with my blogger friend Emy and her kids, and mine complained less than usual. 😉
Catoctin Zoo is a favorite activity of my kids, but we don’t go often since it is one of the more expensive things on our summer list. However, Emmy received a free pass for signing up with the public library’s summer reading challenge, so we were excited to put it to use and meet some friends there as well. We also met some animal friends there, like these alpaca which have a very Sesame street animal vibe to them.
Following the zoo, we had a picnic lunch at Catoctin Furnace, a historical site. None of us knew much about it… we just happened to see it and thought it was a great place to have our lunch. While there, we googled it and read aloud the history which was truly interesting; this furnace was a cannon producer for the revolutionary war. After lunch, we headed over to Cunningham Falls for a hike and view of the waterfalls. We are planning to go back to the falls later this summer to play on the beach there (which has lifeguards) and paddle board.
Being so close to the Mason Dixon line, there is also much history in this area surrounding the Civil War. Monday we met up with my old business partner, Sarah, and her kids, and we took an auto tour of Antietam Battlefield. There’s a history scavenger hunt online that we printed out and followed along with as we toured, and the auto tour features 11 stops, some of which have trails you can hike. We all rode in one vehicle, and the fee is per vehicle rather than per person, so we spent just $10 total.
The historic Burnside’s Bridge is part of the tour; it crosses over Antietam Creek which was full of kayakers that day.
One thing I do want to mention is that after the battlefield tour and a picnic lunch, we headed to Nutter’s Ice Cream in Sharpsburg…. Their ice cream is SOOOO inexpensive and they give you a TON. My small was more like a large and was only $2. I spent less than $6 on treats for myself and my kids! If you’re local to the area, definitely worth a visit.
On Father’s Day, we met up with my parents at Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery for their annual Lavender Festival. My dad took this photo of me and the kids for me.
The lavender was beautiful, but certainly not as plentiful as I expected. It was ridiculously hot that day, there were not many vendors, and the ticket cost per person was $25 (even the kids!)…. and that was only for admission and a commemorative wine glass. To be honest, we won’t be going back to the festival next year.
On the plus side, it was Father’s Day, we spent it with our family, and Chris enjoyed the tasting bar (not included with admission, FYI). The Distillery features an award winning lavender infused gin, so that was worth trying at least!
The following weekend my parents had asked if they could have the kids… well sign us up! We took the opportunity to attend Shepherdstown Streetfest which was so much fun! It was free admission and parking, featured several talented and creative vendors, a beer garden, food vendors, and live music. We will be going back to that one next year. While there, we bought ourselves a hanging planter from Flower Haus and I hung it in the living room. See the two tiered white geometric planter?We also had a fantastic time just enjoying each other’s company and beer from a local brewery.
After enjoying this beer, we headed over to Maria’s Taqueria where we had an incredible lunch! If you’re ever in Shepherdstown I highly recommend it. However, we are older now than we used to be, so after the festival we came home and took naps. We headed back out that evening for trivia at a local dive bar and took second place which earned us a gift certificate to the bar, so we’ll head back again and try to win next time.
Phew…. I think I have officially covered all of the fun things we have been doing to SUMMER SO HARD! I’m going to continue just living my life, being mom, and will pop in here with more updates later this summer. For now though, I am just going to enjoy a little break from the blog! Cheers to an awesome summer full of memories!
PS… thought I would end with this photo that says it all…. Love is truly in the simplest of places. (Do you see it here?)