Fun in the Backyard Sun

The other day we were taking the time to bathe our beagle in the backyard. The kids were in their swimsuits and we were ready to get wet (which is what happens when they decide to help lol). Of course while I was scrubbing the dog down, they took the hose and were squirting each other. It was all in good fun and it made me smile each time I looked at them.

Then came the time to put the hose away.

“Please, Mom? Can we please play in the water more? Can we do the slip n’ slide? The sprinklers? Squirt each other more? Water balloons? Please, please, pleeeeease?”

At first I said no. I thought of the mess, cleaning up after, and all that I needed to do inside. After all, we just got done moving this past week and there was still stuff to unpack and organize. Yet as I looked at their faces and thought of summers past and remembered my own summers, I knew that these memories would not only be precious to me, but to them as well. And so I said yes.

I sprayed the hose as they ran back and forth until we found the sprinkler. I took pictures and then I sat back watching them squeal with delight.

What was I so worried about? My silly excuses seriously tried to keep me from this? The simple joy and pleasure of some backyard fun? I loved it.

Sometimes we as adults need to remember that children are making memories too and to say “yes” to them sometimes.

Happy 4th of July! Make some memories with your family today, especially those kiddos.

“Mmmhmm…. Yup. That was cool.”

Sometimes all our kids or spouses want is our attention, yet something else is sapping it and we are only responding half-heartedly to those around us.

For me, the biggest time sap, or distraction, would be my phone. I pull it out thinking I will only be a few minutes to check something on one of my apps, but then it is a half hour or hour later and the kids are no longer distracted with toys or books and are starting to act up. Or I start getting “the look” from my husband. That, when-are-you-getting-off-that-phone look.

Lately I have found that when I keep the phone out of sight, I don’t really miss it. I can just as easily catch up another time. In fact, the longer I don’t look at it the less I feel interested  I am in even scrolling through Twitter or Instagram. I will admit that using it for pictures and recipes is handy, but really, time flies when it is out. No wonder Americans feel we don’t have enough time in our day. We are always using some sort of technology gadget.

The first day I set my phone aside I realized how much more free time I had. I was able to focus on the kids and not just check out what they were doing in my peripheral vision while they struggled to capture my attention.

To top it off, one of my biggest pet peaves is when someone is distracted with something else when I am trying to get their attention. I always wonder whether I fully have it, and whether they are really hearing me, so why would I do that to my children?

Sometimes other distractions come in the form of cleaning or focusing on some other task. Yes, they need to be done, but if the baby starts crying or the older one needs help with something, it is okay to step away from our task for the moment. I want my kids to know that I am here to support them and feel like they can reach out to me, not feel like cleaning or something else took priority over my attention.

I remember my mom always watching daytime soaps on her days off when we came home from school. Or doing her nails, Or reading a book and being so immersed in it that she would snap at us if we asked a question. I don’t want to be that way to my kids.

Part of making memories and treasuring the small moments is actually being able to catch them and see them. That will only happen if we are able to give our focus to them. This is my goal.

Treasuring our dear ones

In yesterday’s post I wrote about making memories and enjoying all the little moments with our family.

This morning after spending some time with my husband and seeing him off to work, and then having my kids curled around me as they slowly woke up, I thought of how we take for granted the little moments.

Seeing my husband get ready for work as I make his lunch and then spending a few minutes cuddling before he heads out the door is so precious. Greeting him with a hug and kiss and warm, delicious meal when he gets home is such a gift.

Watching my children play, take first steps and other firsts, and those early morning snuggles are so beautiful. Even the grocery shopping trips with the whole family are times to treasure. My husband likes to dance and do silly stuff with the kids as they trail me up and down the aisles. I love it. I know when my children are grown and gone from the home, I want those memories to live alive. In order to do that I know that I have to treasure those moments first now.

What are some distractions that keep us from treasuring these little moments or creating memories? I will touch on that tomorrow.

Summer

Let me start by saying that I love summer, but it is not for the reason that most do. Sure going to the lakes, barbequing outside, being able to take an evening stroll in perfect weather can be nice. School is out and time seems to slow down for most.

If we are talking about weather and seasons I would say that I prefer fall or winter. I like the cold. I like being able to cuddle up under a cozy, thick blanket while I sip my tea and knit or read a good book. I like bundling up in layers and holding kids all snuggly in their layers and blankets.

For me, as I see summer stretched ahead of me I am excited for making memories. Simple memories of mornings at the park before it gets too hot. Memories of afternoons spent playing in water or enjoying playdates with friends. Memories of laying in the grass and looking at the clouds or watching my boys explore both inside and out.

These are the simple moments, but these bring me the most joy and contentment.

My heart leaps for joy knowing that summer is here and school is out, if only for a couple of months. I get a thrill out of seeing it stretched out before us, and I start to plan what we can do. I think of art projects, fun foods to try, places to go, things to do, and I conjure up a big list of goals I want done before summer ends.

But then I stop myself. And I have to keep stopping myself. I am a planner. However, history tells me that all my plans usually go to waste. I spend so much time planning that I lose out on those little moments that I treasure, so this summer I vow to not plan.

I vow to spend each day enjoying the moments that I am blessed to have with my family. If my plans work out, great. If I get to scratch off some of those summer goals I want to accomplish, awesome. But if I don’t, it’s ok. As long as I know that when the inevitable end to summer comes, we can say that we made the most of our summer and we have a host of memories tucked away that we can treasure for a lifetime.

What are your favorite things to do in the summer?

Clean House vs. Time with Family

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Some women are very focused on making sure that every nook and cranny of their home is dust-free and they will not leave the house in the morning until all the dishes are done and the house is straightened up. This is understandable. They want to live in a home that is not cluttered and they feel more at peace with the space they live in. It can be said that they take pride in their homes.

On the other hand you have women that focus purely on their kids and/or other things such as work, electronics, or relaxing and their homes are cluttered with things thrown around haphazardly.

For me, I think there needs to be a happy median. I love the time that I have with my family. Throughout the day I am busy making meals, doing laundry, changing diapers, running errands, and chauffeuring the kids around. When I come home sometimes the last thing that I want to do is clean. I would rather relax and spend some quality time watching t.v. with my loved ones or playing a game with my 6 year old or taking a family walk.

These are the moments that I treasure because I know that when the kids are older and out of the house, I will have plenty of time to keep a clean house. Does this mean that I need to have a house that looks like a tornado came through it in the name of fun? I don’t think so.

One thing that I like to do is make cleaning a fun family time. Ever since my older son was a toddler he was entranced with the vacuum so I let him take that job. Picking up toys is also something that little ones should be taught early on. It makes things so much easier when they are in the habit of picking up their own messes. Doing the dishes can be a time for good conversations too. Working as a family helps everyone feel like they are helping out and there is no need for nagging.

I also do daily little things, such as making the beds first thing in the morning and spending about 15 minutes straightening up the house from clutter each morning, but I’m not too strict about things being spotless. Taking a disinfectant wipe to the kitchen and bathroom counters is also quick and easy to do daily.

In the evenings when I am making dinner, I like to use that time for the boys to spend time with their dad. That is a special time for them to enjoy together and I get a little break.

Each family needs to see what works for them. Cleaning should not be put before family-time. It is nice to have a comfortable home, but it does not need to be perfect. Enjoy the time that you are blessed to spend with your kids. Make memories, laugh, play, and have fun.

If you knew that today was your last day, would you want to lay your head on your pillow wishing you would have spent a little more time with your children or would you wish that you would have a dust-free and spotless home? This is something I try to keep in mind as I prioritize my days.

Enjoying the Infant Days

Today my little one turns 4 months old.

It has been an incredible journey. I truly see children as a blessing and I really try to focus on enjoying each moment that I am gifted with my children. Every day, every moment that we are given is a gift. Each age is comes and goes way too quickly. It seems like yesterday that I was giving birth to this precious little one, yet so much has changed in the past few months.

My little guy went from sleeping constantly and needing only mom to now being interactive and playing with his toys. He smiles often, and, oh, just thinking of his little laugh brings a smile to my face. Sure these days can be difficult and it is not always easy, however, looking back at how quickly these days went by from my older son and other children I have gotten the chance to walk through this stage, I know that I will one day miss these days.

Heck, there are times when I actually miss being up in the middle of the night for hours on end in those first weeks. I treasured those quiet, calm moments when the house was asleep and it was just me and him taking each other in.

I know one day in the not too distant future he will be starting school and before I know it graduating and starting his own life and all that I will have left will be the beautiful memories that a mom buries safe in her heart.

So today, I will be thankful for those moments when he has falls asleep in my arms and those baby smiles and giggles. I will remember how he smells as I snuggle him close after a bath. I will treasure these soft wavy locks of his that have a mind of their own. I will even treasure those moments when I am rocking and bouncing him for who knows how long as he cries for various reasons.

I remember all the little things because I know in the not so distant future that these are all I will be left with as I smile and watch my baby boy spread his wings. For now, I will thank God for today.

 

Making time for vacations

 

This past week was a very busy one for my family. We left very early on a Thursday and made a 9 hour drive to a beach town along the Pacific Coast, coming back home late Monday on a 13 hour trek through a huge snow storm. Living in the desert it is always great to make a getaway to a beautiful beach town, and budget-willing, it is something that we try to make a priority to do once a year. Making time for a family trip is so helpful for families. While some may see it as a bigger pain and stress than it is worth, with the proper preparation it doesn’t have to be that difficult.
As a family, we normally try to aim for taking our trip in October. We are a homeschooling family so it is a little easier for us not having to worry about school schedules. Being able to go while others are in school in some of the between season months makes it cheaper and less stressful. Growing up, even though I went to public school, my parents would always have us kids excused for a week so we could take off during these great months. Hotel rates can be as much as $100 cheaper depending on where you go. We have gotten some amazing deals on family resorts during these times. We normally start looking in about August on a variety of travel websites to find the best deals on hotels that are large and family friendly.

In the week leading up to the trip I make a list of what each person will need. I get the list down to the exact amount of each clothing item will be needed. It makes it easier to make sure that everyone has what they need and no one is short on something once you get to your destination. Starting the list a week earlier allows for some wiggle room to adjust amounts or add on new items as you think about it through the week. Then the day before we all pack and the kids each grab a backpack and fill it with some road fun. Being big readers, books are usually the go-to, but there are also some great travel games that we have come across over the years.

The day of, I am up before the kids and am making sure that everything is together and ready to go before I start shuffling groggy kids around. By having everything ready I feel more prepared, and as I have learned over the years, just feeling prepared helps the stress level decrease dramatically. Once we hit the road I keep the thought in my head that it is a fun trip and that things that might seem like a big deal, such as finding a potty in the middle of nowhere with not a place in sight to pull over on a two-lane highway, will only be looked at as fond memories that we usually laugh about later. So why stress now?

If you are not able to make it out of town, have a stay-cation! Maybe pitch a tent in the backyard or have an indoor picnic and stay up super late making memories. All that matters is that everybody finds time away from all of their obligations every now and then to be able to connect with one another as a family.

Fun family ideas for the fall

Fall has always been a favorite time of year in my family. It is a time when we get to visit the apple orchards, pumpkins patches, corn mazes, and go on a hay ride. These are some fun events that most families can do, depending on what is in your area.

We have been blessed to live close to many places that offer such fun events. However, even if such events are not close to your area, there are many fun things that you can do to get the family in a festive fall mood.

Growing up, I found myself dreading the end of summer and all of our fun outdoor events while I had to trade in time for the indoors at school. My mom knew that and worked hard to bring a festive fall spirit to the house. This made the transformation one that we were able to look forward to. Fall was more than just school starting. It was a time when we got to decorate the house, take some fun trips, and bake fall goodies. This is something that I treasured and have made sure to carry on in my family.

To begin with, here is a list of a few things that we do to decorate around the house:

  • Put out the fall tablecloth (it is amazing how much that can change the mood!)
  • Place out reusable pumpkin and scarecrow decorations
  • Have the kids collect some leaves that have changed colors and make a collage to display
  • Leaf art! (more on that in a moment)
  • Some outdoor fall decorations in the garden to greet us each time we come home

These are really simple fixes that can spruce up any house. The costs came in the first year we purchased the items, but since they are all reusable, we do not have to worry about the cost anymore. To add to the benefit, we did not even need to spend over $20 for all of the super cute decorations.

Once the decorations are up, we start to do little projects. The young kids love to create leaf art (as I mentioned above). It is very simple, and they love it! All you have to do is let them find some leaves of various sizes and shapes. Place under a sheet of plain paper and have them use the side of a crayon to rub the pattern onto the paper. It is amazing to watch their eyes grow in fascination, no matter how many times they do it. Even the older kids can join in and get a little fancier with color blending.

And the favorite event of all: pumpkin carving. When we go to the pumpkin patch, the rule is, if you pick it, you have to be able to carry it. This prevents the little ones from trying to stick with the biggest pumpkins they can get their hands on. It also makes for a great photo opportunity to see each child with their pumpkins of various sizes and shapes that they picked out themselves. Once we get home, they can create any pattern into the pumpkins, usually beginning by drawing out the pattern first. We have had everything from the traditional jack-o-lantern smile faces to airplanes and tractors. The great part about it is that each child gets to truly feel like they own their pumpkin and are proud to display it.

Finally, you can’t forget about their tummies. For fall snacks I like to have some pumpkin pie, spiced cider, or pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on hand for the family. Everyone eats them right up. Perfect to get in the fall festivity spirit.

Why Should I Enjoy Being Home?

This past Labor Day I was working my part-time job at a retail home store and was amazed to find the crowds as big as you would in the days leading up to Christmas. I understand that many people had the day off so they took the day to get things done; however, most people were not buying anything important. I heard many couples say they were out trying to find something to do.

What happened to enjoying family time at home? Or doing a nice family activity like going for a hike or bike riding or just having a lazy day at home?

We are so busy in our lives that we constantly think we need to be doing something, and if we sit down and relax, then we must be lazy. However, sometimes we need that time to unwind after a long day or week. What better place to do that than in our own homes?

I personally find much enjoyment being home, as do my children. There are some days where we are busy running errands all day and we can’t wait to get home and relax. Home is a safe haven. Now, I understand that there are some situations that are less than ideal where this may not be true, however, for the sake of this blog, I am focusing on those who can find peace at home.

Home is a place where you can comfortably relax. You can take time and do something for yourself or for your family. Home should be more than a place that stores your possessions and where you run through to eat or where you sleep at night. It should be a place where you and your family can thrive with love and contentment.

For families that have children, this is especially important. Children are not young forever. They grow, and they grow quickly. Why not start making home a place where they remember and enjoy coming back once they’ve moved out? A place where they love bringing their grandchildren and a place that they would like to emulate with their own family? Taking the time to get to know your spouse and/ or children can be such a joy.

I find that by being joyful at home myself, my family is able to find peace at home as well.