Living Summer Day by Day

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My kids got out of school last Thursday, and we left town for the Indy 500 that afternoon. We got home yesterday, which makes this the first real day of summer my kids have had. My younger daughter is currently lazing around in her pajamas, and my older one is still asleep (and probably will be for quite some time).

This whole family has been looking forward to summer for a while. The stress of the school year winding down and all the end-of-season activities have kept us on our toes. We’re all looking forward to some time to just be lazy.

But summer is about more than just being lazy. It’s a time for me to reconnect with my kids. It’s a time to work on some things that we’ve glossed over during the school year. It’s a time to make memories and have fun. It’s a time to strengthen friendships and have new experiences.

Usually I have a pretty specific plan for the things I want us to do during the summer, but this summer, I find I’m winging it. My girls are most interested in hanging out with their friends and having some time to recoup and refresh. And that’s OK. We’ll find some time to have a few adventures and work on some life skills. We’ll make the time to dive deeper into what God wants for their lives.

But mostly this summer, we’re going to relax. We’re going to take it one day at a time and do the things that fit. That probably means I’m going to have a house full of kids all summer. It probably means I’m going to be feeding kids and taking them places. It probably means some lazy days at the pool and some teenage movie nights. It does mean lots of giggles and a bunch of late nights.

But as I ponder our summer, I’m reminded that these days are fleeting. My older daughter goes to high school in August, and the moments will fly by. So this summer, I want to make as many memories as possible. I want my kids to look back on this summer with joy. I want them to have fun, dive deep with God and cement friendships that will see them through these next few years.

So, while there may not be much concrete on the calendar at the moment, I have high hopes for a summer that’s lived day by day.

Where Did Summer Go?

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It’s the middle of June, and I’m still waiting for summer to start. My kids have been out of school for a month, and we’ve yet to make it to the pool. We’ve had very few days where we can sleep in. We haven’t had a lot of lazy days at home. This summer so far has been as crazy and frantic as the school year.

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, and we were both lamenting that our summers were so busy. We were talking about how our kids’ activities have somehow taken over the summer, too.

My older daughter is doing summer soccer training, and my younger daughter is playing some summer hockey. We’ve got vacations scheduled and a couple of camps. And in all of that, we seem to have lost summertime — long walks, late nights and lots of fun.

And, honestly, I’m not sure how to get it back. I want my kids to look back on their childhoods and not remember it as a rat race. I want them to remember summer adventures and lazy days at the pool. I want them to remember summer as filled with fun, family and friends. I want those summer days to be moments when I intentionally poured into my kids in ways that I can’t during the school year.

So, as I sit here on June 18, trying to figure out where the first month of my summer has gone, I’m looking at the rest of our summer calendar and planning to carve out that time. I’m looking to find the moments to fulfill the words of Deuteronomy 6:6-9. I’m praying for God to hand me opportunities to build my kids’ character and to simply have fun with and enjoy my children.

If you’re wondering where your summer has gone, if you’re looking at the calendar and wondering if you’re ever going to get some lazy days of summer, don’t give up. Find a few days, a few moments that you can set aside to simply enjoy the moment. Take a few things out of the schedule if you need to. Leave some time for your kids to be creative, some time for your family to go get ice cream, some time to just enjoy doing nothing.

Because summer is supposed to be a break from the hurry of the school year. Summer is supposed to be filled with fun. Summer is supposed to be a time for everyone to recharge. Set aside the time to recharge, even if it means giving up some of your kids’ (or your own) activities for a while.

Getting Ready for Summer

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Today is our first official day of summer. My girls finished school on Thursday, but this is the first day we’ve been home since then. Usually by now, I have our whole summer mapped out. I know what behaviors and attitudes I want to focus on. I know what activities we’re going to do. I have a plan.

But this summer, I don’t. Just getting to the end of the school year took every ounce of energy I had. There wasn’t time to think ahead. There weren’t any solitary moments to come up with a grand plan. I simply didn’t have enough time or energy to worry about what was coming next.

So, this week, as I try to put my house back in order from the chaos of the past couple months, I’ll be doing what I normally do in early May. I’ll be planning a summer that has already started.

I’m thinking that this summer might not look like a lot of our other summers. It might be a little less organized. We might be a little more spontaneous. We might spend a little more time just hanging out around the house. And that’s all OK.

Because sometimes what our kids need is a little less planning and a little more love and attention. I’ll have two girls in middle school next year, and what I’ve discovered as my girls get older is that they often need less actual instruction and more guidance. They need to be able to make their own decisions and draw their own conclusions. They need to be able to practice making good decisions.

So this summer is going to be less about some fantastic adventure and more about simply guiding my girls in the decisions that they make. We’ll still have a summer adventure, but it will be more focused on letting them make decisions and less focused on me teaching them.

Because in this house, we’re fast reaching the point where our kids have to choose to hear God’s voice. They have to choose to follow the path we’ve shown them. We can no longer shove them down the path. When there’s a fork in the road, they have to make the decision themselves. They have to live out the truth in Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

So as we embark on our summer adventures, I’m praying that my girls will appreciate the guidance we offer. I’m praying for wisdom to offer that guidance. And I’m praying for a summer filled with fun and growth — for everyone.

Lessons from a Kindness Scavenger Hunt

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Friday night, we finished off our Button Project summer adventure with a kindness scavenger hunt. All summer, we’ve been doing activities with my girls and their friends that focus on how small acts of kindness can make a difference in another person’s life.

Our scavenger hunt consisted of 20 items, most of which were random acts of kindness to another person — from smiling and saying, “Have a nice day” to buying flowers for the cashier at Wal-Mart. Each team had $20 to spend.

What struck me most about this activity was the reactions the girls got. One of their random acts of kindness was to hold the door open for 20 people. We stood at the gas station and the girls opened the door. Several people asked them what they wanted. One man looked at the girls and said, “I’m not giving you anything.”

When the girls gave a pack of gum to another child in Wal-Mart (after explaining to the mom what they were doing), the mom asked, “Are you sure?”

It seems that kindness has become so rare in the lives of some people in this world that it’s hard for people to accept it. We’ve become so wrapped up in our own worlds, our own concerns that when someone smiles and says, “Have a great day,” we automatically assume that they want something from us.

And I find that sad. As I spent all summer teaching my girls that kindness can make a difference in this world, I assumed that the rest of the world could still recognize kindness. I was under the assumption that being kind to each other was not a forgotten art.

But Friday night, I found that for some people, the words of Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another,” really are a foreign concept. They have encountered so little kindness in their everyday lives that when it happens to them, they question its authenticity, they assume that the person doing the kind act has an ulterior motive.

And that’s why it’s so important for us to teach our kids to be kind, to teach our kids to look for opportunities to do a random act of kindness. It gives them the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. It lets them see the difference an act of kindness can make. For as many people as looked at my girls and wondered what they wanted, there were many others that smiled back. They even made the cashier at Wal-Mart cry when they handed her the flowers they had just bought. Our elderly neighbor was in tears over the chalk message the girls left on her driveway.

When our kids are kind to others, they learn what Jesus knew — not everyone wants to accept a free gift. Not everyone can see the value in loving others. Not everyone wants to believe in kindness.

But as my girls passed out random acts of kindness, I saw their faces wreathed in smiles. I saw their eyes light up when someone acknowledged them. I saw them truly understanding that they can change the world, one small act of kindness at a time, so I think it was a summer well-spent.

Check out the instructions for our kindness scavenger hunt here. Feel free modify it and use it with your own kids.

First Friday: When Summer Showers You With Potting Soil

Potting Soil

I remember the day the sprinkler-in-his-head giraffe came to live at our house.

Well, I sort of remember.  Okay, so maybe not the day.  But I think I can at least name the season.

Fall? Winter? Or was it Christmas?

Mercy.

Okay, so I overstated.

I actually only remember some non-summery, non-spring time of the year that Pop Pop brought him through the door in all his clearance glory.  A time that I can assuredly say I thought, “Daddy, you are strongly overestimating my ability to hold on to this thing for a time of year that it will be useful.  But I will try, dear Daddy. I will try.”

Also, perhaps, a bit of an overstatement.

Because only a few days later, Mr. Giraffe went into the storage area (aka The Black Hole of Random Junk.) As I bid him a fond adieu, I knew it would be a blessed miracle if we found him again before Sophie graduated from high school. But I also felt kind of empowered because it seemed that I was actually learning that real life is just kind of like that.

And then came summer.

Where you would find me fully bent on creating some kind of magic schedule that, in my mind, would simply erase any possible whiff of what we refer to as the “Summer Sibling Smackdown.”  I even went so far as to salivate at the very mention of a summer schedule found by my dear friend on Pinterest. I planned, I plotted and I said, “Sweet heavens, this is the key to summer perfection!”

Make it Monday. Take a Trip Tuesday.  Water Wednesday.

You get the idea.

(Actually, I just hope you do because I have already forgotten what you are supposed to do Thursday and Friday. And it’s only the SECOND WEEK?!?! Lord, help me.)

Here’s a summary of the first few days into our inaugural Pinterest schedule of perfection…

Make it Monday.

Where you would have found us painting unfinished wooden trains discovered in the black hole with leftover paint from Grace’s birthday.  First 10 minutes, divine.  The rest, well, I couldn’t tell you.  All I know is if you don’t find something smaller to paint than a train, Make It Monday will turn into Make It All Week. I highly doubt a real train could have taken longer.  Couple that with the 20 paintbrushes that Sophie ate, I can most assuredly say that this was not what Pinterest had in mind.

The best part is we didn’t even “make it” Monday.  We made it Tuesday because we had already “Taken a Trip” on Memorial Day with Daddy.  I can tell you this caused a holy hoot of confusion for my rule-following first-born.  After arguing about it for 15 minutes, I finally said in sheer desperation, “Honey, we can make our own rules. It’s fine. There are no ‘Make It Monday’ police.”

“Well, mom, that would have been good to know.”

Proof that at times, YOU JUST MAKE IT UP, MAMA!

Because be assured, it may be the only way to get to Wednesday. Where you, in great horror, are reminded by the same eldest, “So what are we doing for Water Wednesday?”

AAAACKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait, the giraffe???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s in the black hole……

I think it might be…past the lesson plans from ten years ago…could it be?????

Oh, Daddy, I love you! I love you!!!  I love YOU!!!!!!

For a grand and glorious hour, my three played as I sat and sipped my ice water. It was heaven. Truly, it was.

Then, about the time I snapped a picture and posted something nostalgic on Facebook, I felt something trickling on my shoulder.

I looked up, too late to shout, “NOOOOOOOO!” Only to see a pot veering off the deck in my general direction.  It was a full-on potting soil shower, imparted by my darling Sophie.

And I lost it.

Not the slap-on-a-pointy-hat-and-summon-the-flying-monkeys kind of losing it. (Because FYI, I’ve done that too.) But the total-giving-it-all-up-laughing-uncontrollably kind.

That, my friends, is motherhood.

Just about the time you think you have failed, you find the giraffe.

Just about the time you think you have found Hallmark happiness, a pot nearly misses your head.

And just about the time you think you’ve lost your mind, you feel a little hand tug at you and it’s owner with dirt dripping from her mouth says, “This is fun!”

Seriously, what can you do?

Girls, I know we are staring the next few months down, holding our breath and thinking that “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” means that life should be lilies and roses and sunshine.

But let us instead collectively exhale and relax.

It wasn’t meant to be.

We will all have moments where we just want to throw in the towel.  Where if we face one more poopy diaper or drawing on the wall or WWF brother-sister wrestling match, we WILL get out our pointy hats and threaten to call the monkeys as long as they promise not to add to the poop problem.

We will mess up.

But it is in that imperfection, that messiness, that we can, dare I say it, rejoice over the simple things that let a mama breathe and bend and get up willing to push through all over again the next day.

So mamas, let us rejoice…

Over nap time.

Over a cup of coffee as big your head.

Over the sweet after-swimming coma that kicks in on the car ride home.

Over the picnic tables and cement floors you don’t have to clean.

Over the dollar bin at Target or the free cookies at the bakery.

Over the “lost” Dora DVD that if you had to hear it one more time, you might cry.

Over every sweet and blessed thing that brings you respite.

Let us rejoice in that as much as we delight over the music jam in the mini-van, the squeals of laughter that peal over the spray of a sprinkler or the incredible truth that no matter how pitiful a day is, we can sneak into our kids’ bedrooms at night, watch them sleep and know that we really mean it when we whisper, “I love you.”

It’s life. It’s real. It’s honest.

Even though the stakes are high.  Even though the days are long.  And even though failure seems to whisper at every turn.

Jesus gets it.

He delights in our praise, not in our perfection.

So praise Him, sweet mamas, with a chorus of a thousand hallelujahs for simply making it to the end of the day.  Where you fall into bed, shoes and glasses still on, closing your eyes just for a bit until you realize…

Wait, is tomorrow Wednesday? Crud, water day again. Hmmm…I wonder where that inflatable purple shoot-water-out-its-head Octopus is??????

Maybe if I close my eyes…I can visualize it…

(ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…snort…)

Wait, I’m visualizing…

Eh, forget it.

Jesus, thank you that my Daddy rocks… and those inflatable sprinkler animal things… and while we’re at it, me too. I totally rock. Because you and I both know a miracle has just occurred…

I actually REMEMBERED that tomorrow is Wednesday.

And all the rocking tired mamas said, “AAAAAAAMEN!”

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful.

 

 

 

What Does Summer Look Like?

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We had our first official at-home day of summer break yesterday — and it did not go well. After 10 days of being constantly entertained during our vacation, my girls had a hard time settling into a routine.

I always forget how difficult these first few days of summer are for everyone. I work from home year-round, and my girls forget that I need to get work done because during the school year, I work when they’re at school. In the summer, we have to make the schedule work so that I can get some work done, and they can get some of my attention.

It usually takes us about a week to hit our stride when it comes to the schedule. While summer is a more relaxed, fun time at our house, we have to have enough structure to get everything done that needs to be done. People often ask me how I set up our summer days so that we have time for work and for play, so today, I thought I’d share with you what summer looks like in our house in the hopes that it will spur you to start thinking about what your summer schedule looks like.

Summer should have plenty of time for making memories and having fun, but it should also be a time when our kids learn the value of work and learn some new things. That takes some planning on our part.

Our summer days typically have three parts — chores, learning and fun. It’s a balance that can tilt more toward fun one day and more toward learning and chores another. But all three are important.

Chores. This is the part of the day my kids like least, but learning to work is an important skill. Learning to do things correctly and with a good attitude is part of growing up. It’s important that our kids learn to work at tasks they don’t particularly like because not everything we do in life is fun. We want to teach our kids to live out the words of Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Every morning, my girls have a to-do list that has to be done before anything else. It includes things like making their beds, doing their assigned chore for the day, and practicing their instruments. Throughout the summer, we’ll have a few days where we’ll work on a big project around the house together.

Learning. While most kids view summer as a break from learning, I think it’s the perfect time to get them focused on learning some things that they don’t learn in school. Whether it’s character qualities, history or reading, summer gives us unfettered access to our kids’ minds and hearts without the distraction of all they’re trying to learn from school. We can choose to take advantage of that time or we can let it slip by. Proverbs 1:8-9 says “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” Summer is the perfect time for a father’s instruction and a mother’s teaching to really sink in.

My girls are required to read for 30 minutes every day. Their screen time (TV, computers, etc.) is directly tied to how many minutes a day they read. We also take trips to local places that have some educational value. This summer, I’m planning excursions to the Negro League Baseball Museum and the World War I Museum. We’re addressing the character quality of kindness through our summer adventure, The Button Project.

Fun. Summer should be a time for lots and lots of fun. After a year of school, our kids deserve some time to just be kids. So much of school stifles the imagination, so summer is the time to let imaginations run wild around here. Proverbs 17:22 says “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” We want our kids to have joyful spirits, so leaving plenty of time for fun in our summers, allows them to experience the joy of friends and family.

I usually plan some fun things for the summer, but a lot of the time, I let my girls decide what they want to do. My older daughter wants to learn to decorate cakes this summer, so we’ll be baking together and making a mess in the kitchen. My younger daughter is interested in hieroglyphics, so we’re learning about the different hieroglyphic symbols. We’ll have water balloon fights and silly string wars. Some days, we’ll simply hang out at the pool.

Summertime is precious time with our kids. We can make the most of it or we can let it slip by. When we’re intentional with that time that our kids aren’t focused on school, we can strengthen our kids’ work ethics, their love of learning and their sense of fun. All it takes is a little creativity and planning on our part.

Jello Fight

 

I’m taking some time off this week to attend our annual family reunion. This is one of my all-time favorite summertime ideas. It’s messy. It’s fun, and it teaches a great lesson. Enjoy this post and I’ll be back on Monday.

We were on vacation with my extended family. For the first time, all the kids slept together in one room. We had six kids ranging in age from nine to two. Of course, lots of talking and giggling ensued after everyone got in bed. One night, we went in and told them to be quiet. We had to go back several times to persuade the kids to be quiet. The next morning, my youngest daughter explained to me that it wasn’t her fault that the kids were talking and got in trouble because the other kids in the room made her talk. We had a long discussion about being responsible for your own actions, but that reminded me so much of the way all of us look at sin. We all want to blame someone else for making us sin.

The truth is everyone sins, and that’s an important concept for our kids to understand. If we didn’t need someone to wipe away our sins, then Jesus didn’t need to die on the cross, and we wouldn’t need God. If we could just pass the blame and the consequences off on someone or something else, there would be no need for grace. These are big concepts that might be tough for your kids to wrap their brains around. One great way to point out how sin can dirty up our lives and only God can wipe it away is to have a Jello fight.

I’m sure some of you are thinking “Is she crazy?” Well, probably, but I guarantee they won’t forget the fight or the lesson behind it, so let go of your reservations, find some old clothes and let the kids have a great time and learn something in the process.

Dress your kids in old clothes and make up a big batch of Jello. Give each child a different color of Jello to throw. Take them out in the yard and let them throw Jello at each other until they run out. They will be covered in it when they are done. The thing about Jello is that it’s sticky and hard to get off of you and your clothes.

Explain to your kids that sin is kind of like Jello. It sticks to us and covers us up. It separates us from God, just like the Jello separates them from other people, because who is going to let a Jello-covered kid into their house? No one would probably take a hug from a kid who’s just been in a Jello fight. God can’t get close to us when we’re covered in sin.

Now, turn on the hose and hose your kids down until all the Jello is off their skin and hair. Explain to them that Jesus’s death and resurrection allow God to wipe away our sin, just like the water from the hose wipes away the Jello. God offers to wipe away our sin for free, just like you didn’t charge your kids for the water to clean up. All we have to do is recognize that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness, and God separates our sin from us.

Here are some great verses to use while talking to your kids:

  • Psalm 51:7 — Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
  • John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • Romans 6:23 — For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

When you’ve finished your Jello fight, take your clean kids inside for a Jello snack. I promise, they’ll love it.

The Button Project: How One Button is Changing the World

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Today is the last day of school and the first day of our summer adventure. Every year, I do a themed program with my girls and four of their friends. You can read about some of our past adventures here. This year, our summer adventure is called The Button Project, and we’d love to have you join us.

To understand The Button Project, I have to tell you a story — a story about a button. Way back when I was a very green, 21-year-old copy editor, just a few months into my first job, I became friends with a new reporter we hired at the trade publication we worked at. This guy was (and is) an amazing writer. I learned a lot of what I know about writing from him. He was older than me and had seen and done some amazing things. And he was an incredible reporter, far too good for our little trade newspaper.

He was living in Kansas because his wife was going to school nearby. Not long after he came, though, his marriage fell apart. It was clearly a difficult time. Even in my 21-year-old, newlywed self-centeredness, I knew that it was horrible for him. One day, a button fell off his suit coat. When he went to lunch, I sewed it back on with a sewing kit I kept in my desk. I never thought anything about that moment again.

Fast-forward 15 years or so to the moment my first story published in a major book compilation arrived on my doorstep. As I was looking at the cover of the book, I realized that I would never have written the story in that book if my friend from so many years ago hadn’t given me the best advice I ever received about writing: “If you have something to write about, write it.” If not for those words, this blog wouldn’t exist. I would never have written any of the Bible studies for our moms’ group at my church or even the Everyday Christmas devotional. So, I sent him a Facebook message, thanking him.

The message I got back changed my outlook on life, and it led to The Button Project. He reminded me that all those years ago, I had sewed on that button for him. I truly don’t remember that day. He said it was a moment of kindness in a horrible time that he had never forgotten. Fifteen years later, he told me, “It was one of the most touching and kind things anyone has ever done for me.” He also said that he had shared that moment with a friend who was going through her own tough time. All this from a moment of kindness I didn’t even remember.

You see, kindness changes things. It’s one of the reasons that God tells us to be kind to each other. Kindness makes a difference in a dark day. It tells someone that they have value. Kindness counteracts the darkness in this world.

Which brings us to The Button Project. This summer, my girls and their friends are on an adventure to change the world one act of kindness at a time. When the girls meet around my table today, we’ll be learning about someone who changed the world with kindness, and we’ll be brainstorming ways that we can be kind to others. When they leave my house today, they’ll take with them Button Project business cards to leave behind when they do a random act of kindness for someone. All summer long, they’ll be doing random acts of kindness and leaving behind cards. When we meet together, we’ll be learning about some people who changed the world with their kindness and doing some bigger acts of kindness together.

And this year, you can join us. You see, each card will take the recipient to The Button Project Facebook page, where they can leave us a comment about the act of kindness they received. You can go there, too. Like the page, let us know you’re joining us and print off your own set of Button Project cards. By the end of the day, I’ll have the lesson plan for the first week posted there, too.

Let The Button Project turn your summer into a summer of kindness as you teach your kids to live out the words of Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another…”

Getting Ready for Summer

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Is it Friday yet? It’s been a long week around here, and it’s only Wednesday. I’m not just ready for Friday, I’m ready for the school year to be over. I’m ready for the lazy days of summer. I’m ready to get my kids home so I can work on building them up and regaining some of the joy this school year has sucked out of them.

It’s May 1, so that means it’s time to start planning for summer in our house. Many of you know that we usually do a big summer adventure in our house each year. I choose a theme, we invite a couple of the girls’ friends to join us, and we have a lot of fun learning about how God wants us to act in certain situations. You can find the plans for one of our past summer adventures for free here.

I’m super excited about this summer’s adventure because it’s something that you can join us in doing. I’ll have more details for you later in the month, so keep an eye out. We’d love to have you join us.

But today’s post is about choosing to use the summer months as a time to be intentional in teaching your kids and having fun with them. Whether you send your kids to school or you homeschool, summer is a time that you can use to jump outside your routine and teach your kids in a new way. With the academic stuff out of the way, you can truly focus on character and family.

Too many times, summer can fly by without us ever being truly intentional with our kids. Proverbs 21:5 says “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” While that verse is talking about money, it also applies to our time. If we have a plan going into the summer, we’re more likely to follow it and our families will profit from it.

You may not have the time or the energy to create your own themed summer adventure, and that’s OK. You can be intentional with your kids in other ways. You can simply commit to grabbing the teachable moments that God provides. You can decide on a character quality you want to work on and make intentional strides toward teaching that character quality to your kids. You can turn a trip to the zoo into a discussion about God’s creation.

All it takes is a little planning. Last May, I wrote a series on planning your summer called The Best Summer Ever. I’m not going to repeat it here, but I encourage you to check it out. You’ll find all the advice and free printables you need to get started planning your summer. Just click on The Best Summer Ever icon in the sidebar.

I want to encourage you to start thinking and planning your summer now. That way when the final school bell rings, you’ll have a plan in place. This summer won’t slip by without you taking advantage of the extra moments with your kids.

Friday Introduction: Making Each Day a Celebration (Celebrate Every Day With Me)

Celebrations are part of life. Yet we tend to limit them to special occasions. I recently ran across Kristen Summers blog, Celebrate Every Day With Me, where she encourages us to celebrate all the time. She was gracious enough to agree to guest post for us today. I know you’ll enjoy her post and her blog as much as I do.

Think it is an ordinary day?  Try again. 

Sure, the day may feel ordinary.  But it doesn’t need to be.  There are things all around us to celebrate!  There are fun adventures to be had and silly “holidays” to be observed.  But more than that, there are precious moments with our children to be enjoyed and savored. 

I am a mom to two young kids and keep a fairly busy schedule.  Even if it’s only a brief moment with my children, I want to do something fun TODAY. 

Here is why I’m choosing to make each day a celebration: 

Celebrations are plain fun!  When was the last time you set aside your “To Do” list and did something just for the fun of it or celebrated the moment?  Whether you are celebrating the birthday of your child’s stuffed animal or making a party out of painting enormous boxes, you and your kids can have fun.   

Celebrations are memorable.  I want my kids to have great memories of the fun things we did.  I want them to remember the time mom dropped everything we had to do and took a road trip in search of the best ice cream in the county.  (Ooh, this would mean ice cream all day long!). 

Some of my best childhood memories were the crazy, fun things we did . . . the times where we laughed until our bellies hurt.  Those are the kinds of memories I want to create for my kids.

Celebrations are relationship-building.  Whether you are celebrating something big or just the everyday things of life, you have the opportunity to bond and make your child feel valued.  Things may go wrong on your mini-adventure, but that’s ok!  You are together. 

Celebrations require a joyful attitude.  Being able to enjoy the daily encounters of special and silly celebrations can’t begin with a grumpy disposition.   One has to approach the day with excitement and anticipation.  An added bonus of a joyful outlook is that it is a great de-stresser for our busy lives. 

Celebrating is a way to remind us of the blessings of God.  The Bible is filled with celebrations and festivals to remind God’s people of His love, deliverance, provision and care.  When we stop to celebrate the ways God has blessed us, we not only deliberately acknowledge and enjoy the blessing, but we give Him glory.

My kids are such a blessing to me.  When I pause the busyness of my life and focus on intentional fun moments, even the little celebrations, I am reminded of the joy those two little kids have given me and I thank God for them.  Kids will only be young for a brief time.  As much as I want the years to slow down, they don’t.  The answer?  Make the most of the precious moments you have with your kids.  Celebrate each day!

Quick Ideas:

  • Put aside your list and do something impromptu today.  The only requirement:  it must be fun!
  • Check out a silly holiday list.  What can you celebrate this week?
  • Select a night of the week to be your Mission Fun Night.  Make it family game night, let the kids cook or go off on a “Let’s See Where We End Up” adventure.   
  • When you’re on the go and you drive by something that would thrill your kids, stop.
  • Take an interest of your children and create a whole party around it (even if your kids are the only guests). 

Remember, celebrating every day need not be a lot of work.  We’re after the joy, the relationships, the fun and the memories. 

Happy Celebrating!

Kristen is a stay at home mom to two kids (ages 2 and 4) who keep her busy and laughing.  As a former wedding and event planner, she now celebrates the everyday things of life and works to make each day special.  She has long lists, loves diet soda and playing jokes on her husband.  On her blog you’ll find fun ideas for children’s activities, creating memorable moments and of course, party planning and other wacky events.  You can find her at Celebrate Every Day With Me (www.CelebrateEveryDayWithMe.com).