8 Fun Ways for Kids to Serve!

As Labor Day Weekend has come and gone, it seems so has our Summer.  School starts this week for us and, as a result, we have been busily finishing up our 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items.  We recently completed our “Day of Service” item.  Since I had put a bit of time researching just the right opportunities for my kids (ages 1 through 9) to spread kindness, and it turned out so well, I thought I would share my 8 fun ways for kids to serve!  We didn’t have a chance to do all eight of these ideas, but the ones we did do had some surprising results.

Take cards to the assisted living home.

We have done this a few times now and my kids are getting more comfortable at going up to the residents and delivering their handmade cards.  Sometimes it is difficult for young kids to feel comfortable walking up to strangers, let alone strangers who may have disabilities or ailments that may make children uncomfortable from their lack of understanding.  I admit, when I was a teenager and served in our school Community Service Club, visiting the local retirement home gave me anxiety.  I digress, as this post is not about me and my insecurities.

We usually invite other families to join us so that we can have a card making party and be armed with more cards to give out when we arrive at the assisted living home.  I’ve learned that the best time to arrive is around lunch or dinner time, to deliver cards while they are all gathered for meals.  On times when we have arrived outside of these hours, we have merely placed the cards on the tables for the residents to see when they arrive.  Our cards usually include little notes wishing them a nice day with a drawing and some stickers.  I think it’s fun to include the ages of the kids who are creating the cards, to personalize the experience a little more for the recipient.

Fun ways to serve

Leave “lucky pennies” for children to find.

When I was a little girl, my Mom used to say, “Heads up, pick it up.  Give it away, have luck all day.”  I’ve heard variations on that, but the common thread is that a penny with its head facing up is considered good luck.  But, let’s be honest, a kid doesn’t care what way a penny is facing.  A penny, in their minds, is as good as gold.  My friend and I sent our kids out, with pennies in hand, to go place “lucky pennies” along the pathway where we were eating our lunch picnic during this year’s Day of Service.  As soon as the kids were done eating their lunches, they all ran off to check the status of the pennies they had placed.  Such a fun and simple way to spread joy!

Deliver baked goods to your local fire station.

This one is ALWAYS the highlight of my kids’ Day of Service.  It’s probably because the fire fighters in our town are all too willing to give them a tour of their vehicles, particularly their engine.  What child doesn’t love getting up in a fire engine?  I feel like we’re on the recipient side of this act of service, as they seem to stop everything to teach our children and let them explore.  The best part is, as an adult, I actually learn new stuff about their role in our community every time we go.

 Attach a bag of coins to a vending machine.

After our assisted living home stop, lunch break, and fire station exploration, we headed over to our local hospital to do two more acts of service.  Before heading out for our Day of Service, we had placed a dollar worth of coins into six separate baggies with a note that read, “Spreading random acts of kindness.  Enjoy a treat on us!”  Upon arriving to the hospital, we sought out the vending machines and taped the baggies to the machines with packing tape.  Since we had six bags and there were only two vending machines, we ended up taping four and delivering two to patients waiting in the Emergency Department.

Place coloring books and crayons in hospital waiting areas.

This was our second act of service within the hospital, and the most surprising one to me.  Being that we were two women with eight kids between us, I don’t imagine we appeared dangerous, yet some adults and kids were quick to refuse our offer of crayons and coloring sheets.  I was shocked by a mom who sharply declined our act of kindness and kids who seemed confused by our offer.  In fact, nobody would take any from us.  We ended up placing the items on tables near the waiting families and informing them that they were theirs for the taking, should they change their mind.  Some kids quickly went for the coloring pages once they were laying out.  I suppose many of us have come accustomed to believing that there is always some sort of catch to something being “free.”

The three remaining items for 8 fun ways for kids to serve were not done during our Day of Service, but I had intentions of doing these as well.  Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to do them for one reason or another.

Leave positive messages with sidewalk chalk along walkways.

I really wanted to do this one, but I forgot to buy the sidewalk chalk.  My hope was to have the kids leave smiley faces along sidewalks or perhaps little messages that just said, “Have a good day,” or “You’re beautiful.”  Sidewalk chalk messages and drawings seem to easily catch the attention of others.  How fun would it be to know that others might be lifted up by such a simple message for days to follow?

Return shopping carts to their stalls.

This was another way that I thought my kids would have fun serving.  However, after further thought, I realized that my kids are a bit too young to be gathering shopping carts and pushing them through busy parking lots.  Plus, my kids kept worrying that if we did this task, then we would end up putting the workers who normally do this undertaking out of a job.    I imagine once they’re a little older, they’ll understand that the “shopping cart retrievers” have other responsibilities to ensure job security.  Perhaps then we can give this act of service a go?

Leave a small present or a note of appreciation in your mailbox for your mail carrier.

My Mom used to give the garbage man, the mail carrier, our dry cleaners’ owners, and our gardeners a box of See’s Candies for Christmas, as a sign of our appreciation.  I always thought it such a nice gesture.  While I don’t have the ability to give such generous tokens, I thought it might be nice to drop a note of gratitude or perhaps grab a candy bar and leave it in our mailbox for our mail carrier.

::COMMERCIAL BREAK::  You may notice that I am being very PC in referring to our mail carrier.  This is because I once addressed a card to my BFF that said, “Dear Mailman, Please deliver this card to the best friend in the whole wide world.”  When the card arrived, the mail carrier had left a note on the front of the card, slashing out the word “man” portion of Mailman and putting “woman” instead.  Since then, I’ve tried to be more considerate about the gender of a mail carrier.  Normally, I’m not very PC, but if I’m going to show my appreciation, I certainly want to be sensitive to their feelings.  ::NOW BACK TO YOUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING::

All of these 8 fun ways for kids to serve almost seem too easy.  By the time we had done five of these eight acts of kindness, it seemed like we had hardly done anything at all.  But who is to say how far these acts may go?  They weren’t big at all in the grand scheme of things, but if they changed the outlook of even one person’s day, then I think we’ve had a success.  Heck, I even got a little happy when my daughter delivered a card to an elderly gentleman playing the piano at the assisted living home, and he noticed her name on the card and said that it was also his sister’s name.  Perhaps just triggering the memory of a loved one brought joy to him?  I know remembering my mom can be bittersweet, but each memory is a reminder that she lives on in me.

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children so many things; at times it feels overwhelming.  However, teaching my children to look beyond themselves is towards the top of my list.  As a Christian woman, my focus is to teach my children of Jesus Christ.  What better way to teach of Him, than to teach them how to be charitable, which is the pure love of Christ?   I hope they remember these days that we set aside every so often to serve, and seek out their own ways to lift others through their daily activities.

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Most Important Work

I’ve felt a bit blue recently.  I am not sure what to attribute it to in my life.  Things are all going well in our world, so it’s definitely something that is coming from within.  I could chalk it up to the mental illness I battle, but that doesn’t make it any easier to face it.  In trying to figure out what positive insight I could share this week, I decided I needed my own inspiration and hit my Worth Remembering board on Pinterest.  The quote that hit the spot was the one that reads, “Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work.”  You may have noticed that I did not credit anyone as having said that.  That’s because, there is debate on who was quoted as saying this line.  You’ll see credit given to C.S. Lewis and John Trainer, M.D..  C.S. Lewis fans say that he was never quoted as saying this, so I guess that leaves it to John Trainer, M.D.  Regardless of its origin, it was what I needed to read.  The one thing I have been trying my best to do this past week is make the most of the last days of my children’s Summer.  While I feel like I’m failing in many ways, I have focused on the most important work, which is my children.  I need to remember this, because usually I feel like a failure in the department of parenting as well.  I’m not claiming to feel superior as a parent, but I’m feeling more confident than usual as I place my focus more fully on them.

Most Important Work

 

With that being said, I’m keeping this short and sweet.  My week has been filled with loads of fun memories being made with my kids.  As a result, many other things got pushed to the back burner, and that’s okay.  This time in our lives will end all too soon.  Now is the time for my children to be my most important work and, may I add, my most important play.  So, work and play we shall do!

First Friday Find: Free Rice

How quickly the first Friday of the month sneaks up on me.  I was at a blank as to what to share when I remembered this website that is super fun that I came across years ago.  So, it’s more of an old find.  First Friday Find: Free Rice helps those in need.  Free Rice has two goals:  provide education to everyone for free and help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.  Free Rice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.

Free Rice

It’s a simple and fun concept.  You go to Free Rice, you answer questions, and every correct answer donates 10 grains of rice to feed the hungry.  There are different levels of ease and different subjects to choose from.  So, you could sit your little kid down and get them working on saving the world one grain of rice at a time.  WARNING: the site can be rather addicting; as you see your bowl of rice fill up and realize that every answer feeds more, you can’t help but keep playing.

It’s really that simple.  Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

Screen Time Guilt

My three-year-old had his annual check-up a few months ago and they handed me a form to fill out about his development.  I knew they would have a question about his amount of screen time and I knew I did not want to answer it honestly.  The question was specifically worded like this, “Do you limit screen time for your child?”  My husband was next to me, as I was filling out the form.  He said, “Nope.”  I said, “Yes, I do.”  Granted, I don’t limit it as much as I should, but if I have to hear twenty billion times a day, “Can I watch TV?” then that means I have taken some measures to limit it.  Of course, we still got “the speech” about too much screen time from our pediatrician, since I fessed up that it was more than 2 hours a day.  I get it.  I really do.  Too much screen time is bad for our children (and ourselves), but I’m tired of the screen time guilt I feel every time I say ‘yes’ to the TV or iPad.  Frankly, I’m tired of the guilt that I feel for every shortcoming I have as a mother.

Here’s the deal.  I’m working on my 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items along with the twenty additional ones I have that are location specific, and we are flying through them.  We’ve been to a rodeo, had a water balloon fight with some 30+ kids, gone on several picnics, gone camping, visited a fish hatchery, attempted letter-boxing (couldn’t find it), gone on a surrey ride as a family, had a lemonade stand and a garage sale, hosted a talent show with friends, drawn sidewalk chalk drawings, played board games, gone to our local outdoor swim facility, eaten snow cones, taken a trip to a local lake, played at a water splash pad, been working on our library’s reading program, gone to the $1 movies at Regal Cinemas (saw Annie, which was really quite enjoyable), gone swimming at a friend’s pool, built an indoor fort, and my daughters are in the middle of writing and illustrating their own stories, among other things.  Yet still, they probably average 4-5 hours of screen time everyday.  Depending on when they wake up, they sometimes get two hours of TV time before I’ve even rolled out of bed.  It’s terrible, I get that.  But I feel like a Cruise Entertainment Director and sometimes I just need my kids to sit and chill and not fight.  So, why must I feel the screen time guilt every time that happens?

Screen Time Guilt

Is there an escape from said guilt?  Because I imagine even if I just let them veg out with a screen for only two hours, I would still feel guilt for those two hours.  I feel guilt every time that I am not 100% engaged with my children.  I’m really good at this whole guilt thing, apparently.  I get that I am going to miss these days.  Actually, my eldest is already old enough that I do miss those days when she was a baby and it was just her, and she was my shopping partner and listening ear when I talked to myself in the stores about the products I planned on buying.  I already miss her chubby little hands that looked like they had been screwed on her arms since she had a huge crease between the two.  I already miss how she would say “Hokey Pokey” instead of Pinocchio.  You see, I get that time flies.  It’s racing faster than I can process.  But sometimes, time drags.  It drags on those days when I just don’t feel well, when my husband works long hours for days on end, or when my children bicker endlessly.  And on those days, which is most days at least one point in the day, screen time sounds lovely.

All that being said, I do turn off the TV and make my kids go fight about what to play with each other.  Even worse, I make them clean up their messes.  Their messes that obviously prove they are not having screen time all day or else the messes wouldn’t be there in the first place, right?  My house is too much of a disaster from children’s items for my kids lives to be entirely dedicated to screens.  Is it odd that the mess gives me a bit of relief as it is an indicator that my children still know how to imagine and create?  Or the paper scraps?  Oh my heavens!  The paper scraps around my house.  I’m convinced there is a forest missing somewhere due to my girls alone, and yet the screen time guilt remains.  You see it doesn’t seem to matter how much I do to keep my kids busy or what they do to keep themselves busy, at the end of the day, I just seem to focus on the hours of screen time they should not have had.

The real reason that screen time guilt hits me, is because I know they’re missing out on stuff, just like I’m missing out on stuff when I spend hours checking (and re checking) social media.  I get that we have less time to engage with one another when I so quickly say ‘yes’ to screen time.  One Sunday, a couple of weeks ago, I was frustrated as I looked around and noticed that every family member, aside from my baby, was on a screen.  That’s not the type of life I want to live either, y’know?  I made everybody get off their screens and talk to each other.  I realize that I don’t do that enough.  And that is where the guilt comes from.

So, dear readers, help me out.  How do I rid myself of screen time guilt for the times that we all just want to veg?  And how do I better moderate the screen time use so that we don’t miss living life to the fullest?  Before I open myself up to judgment, please consider that my baby still takes two naps a day and my three-year-old cannot engage with someone else without screaming at the top of his lungs at some point, whether it be in frustration or happiness.  He is loud.  So, half the time the TV is on as a tool to keep him quiet and the baby sleeping.

My daughter’s annual check-up was just last week and I had to answer the same question.  This time, I told the pediatrician, “She is on a screen more than she should be and less than she wants to be.”  That answer didn’t suffice the doctor either.  I was given “the speech” again.  At the next check-up, I want to answer the question with more honesty and less guilt.  Can I have both without removing all screens from our home?

Feeling Uniquely Wonderful

As it states in my About Me section, “I receive daily opportunities to debunk my irrational thoughts and live to the measure of my full potential.”  This past Sunday was one of those days, when I noticed a trait in a friend that I wanted to work on in my life.  She is a woman I know through church.  Joy is written in her countenance and it’s amplified through her energetic smile and engaging eyes.  When speaking with her, it’s clear I have her full attention.  Not only do I have her full attention, but she appears genuinely interested in what I have to say.  Even more than that, she showers me in compliments when it seems there is nothing compliment-able about me.  In short, she makes me feel like I’m the coolest person in the world every single time I talk to her.  I admit, it’s pretty good on the ego.  Here’s the catch though, if I were to ask someone else if this friend left them feeling uniquely wonderful as well, they would all answer yes.  So, does this mean that she is not sincere?  The sincerity of such a friend, has always left me in question.  If someone makes everyone feel like they’re the coolest person ever, who really is the coolest person ever?  I think I finally found the answer to my internal debate this past Sunday, when I came home from church feeling uniquely wonderful.

Before I share my answer, I think it’s important to give some background information so that you know that I truly have struggled with this for years.  It all started with my Grandpa.  Every time that I arrived in my grandparents’ home, I would give both my Nana and Grandpa a hug.  And every time I hugged my Grandpa, I would ask him how he was.  And every time I asked him, he would always respond, “I’m better now.”  Every time.  I immediately felt like I had made my Grandpa’s day.  He was better because I was there.  It took years before I realized that he said that to everyone that went up and hugged him and asked how he was.  Everybody made him better.

But, how could that be?  Wasn’t I the best?  That’s probably the real issue in this debate, is that I somehow need to know where I land in the ranks of someone’s love and devotion.  Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that if I was not the best, then I wasn’t really enough at all.  Woah.  There’s a personal realization that I wasn’t expecting to stumble across while writing this post.  I digress.

So, my Grandpa was the first person I noticed that has this ability, and my church friend is the most recent.  But there are others that I have crossed paths with that have this knack.  I’m sure you can think of such a person in your own life.  They’re the type of person that makes everyone they come across feel perfectly okay being exactly who they are.  They celebrate you every time they are around you so that you walk away feeling uniquely wonderful.

Perfectly Okay

As I’ve come in contact with more of these people, I’ve decided that they are completely sincere.  My Grandpa really does feel better with each embrace he receives from a loved one.  My friend genuinely enjoys when I teach a class at church.  Other friends with this gift, really do find me enjoyable to be around.  They don’t say these things just to say them.  They see the positive in people.  They recognize the joy that others feel when they know they’re loved and appreciated.  They, in turn, feel joy knowing they have brightened another’s day by expressing their uplifting remarks.

As often is the case, I have discovered something about myself through the exercise of writing a post.  Where I was originally planning to share how I would like to become better at uplifting others, as these type of people do, I now want to remove this subconscious thought process of ranking myself in other’s eyes.  For instance, let’s say that someone tells me that I’m a good cook (keep your laughter to a minimum, please) and I hear that same person tell another person that they’re a good cook.  Can we not both be good cooks?  What is it about me that needs to know what level of “good cook” I am versus the other person?  Oy vey.  I’m flashing back to my post Stop Comparing and Reclaim Joy where I referenced Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  This need to compare and rank truly is the thief of joy.  It’s caused me to take the kind remarks from a friend and question their sincerity and my worth.  How sad is that?

Well, it seems as though I’ve got a bit of debunking to do, if I want to rid myself of this ridiculous need to rank my level of awesomeness in the eyes of each person I meet.  If I do slip up and get this insatiable urge to rank myself, perhaps I’ll have enough wisdom to recognize that I am #1 to one spectacular husband and four incredible children!  It really is no wonder I struggle with insecurity when I’m subconsciously filing myself in a particular category for each person that I know.  Oh man.  Why do I feel like I’ve opened a can of worms with this realization?

#1 in their eyes!
#1 in their eyes!

Before I freak out anymore, let me answer the question I originally posed, “If someone makes everyone feel like they’re the coolest person ever, who really is the coolest person ever?”  My answer: All of us.  All of us have the right to be around people who leave us feeling uniquely wonderful.  And my heart’s desire is to make sure I am better about leaving people feeling just that way.  I’m certain that the more I accept the compliments given to me as being sincere and the more I strive to show my love and appreciation for others, the better suited I will be to live to the measure of my full potential.

50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items

For many, Memorial Day Weekend is the kick-off for Summer.  School does not get out until mid-June for my kiddos, but that’s not stopping us from getting a head start on some summer fun!  This weekend, we’re going on our first camping trip as a family.  So, I’m sure you can expect a camping related post in the near future.  In the meantime, I am so excited to share with you my 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items to do with your kids!

2015 Summer Bucket List

My personal summer bucket list includes the following 50 items along with 20 more items that are specific to the region where I live.  I highly suggest that you take this list and add some of your favorite things to do locally.  Most of these were on my list last year, but I’ve added some new ones and removed the ones that were a bust.  This will be my third Summer using a bucket list and I can’t wait!  My Summers have never been better, since I let a bucket list guide my way.  My love of completing lists keeps me motivated to carry out all these items, and makes it a fantastic Summer for all of us!

  1. Find and Follow a YouTube Tutorial – The possibilities are endless.  I recently just used a YouTube tutorial to create a low-budget Cleopatra costume for my daughter’s Wax Museum Project at school.
  2. Take a Full Moon Walk (6/2, 7/1, 7/31, 8/29)
  3. Do a Day of Service – Last year we spent the morning serving at a church event, then we took cookies to a Fire Station, and homemade cards to a local Retirement Home.  We did this with some friends, which made it that much more fun.
  4. Celebrate a “National” Holiday – National Ice-Cream Day is on Sunday, July 19th, this year.  If you’d prefer National Watermelon Day, you can celebrate on Monday, August 3rd.  Don’t let me hold you back though, celebrate as many as you want by looking through Foodimentary’s National Food Holidays.
  5. Do Letter Boxing – What a fun activity this was to do last year!  I had never done it before.  We did it as a family with my BFF, who was visiting from Southern California.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s like going on a treasure hunt.  I feel like the Letterboxing websitemay be able to describe it better than I can.  We completed two locations.  Not only was it fun to follow the clues to the Letterbox, but it was also nice to see the beautiful sites along the way!

    Letterboxing
    Letter Boxing
  6. Attend a County Fair
  7. Participate in a Reading Program – Last year we did the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program.  Your local library likely has one available as well.
  8. Have a Water Balloon Fight
  9. Go on a Picnic
  10. Make a Popsicle Stick Puzzle

    Popsicle Stick Puzzle
    Popsicle Stick Puzzle
  11. Have a Family/Friends Game Night – I may have cheated and had our friends play Pictionary with us (#45 on this list) last Summer, so I could kill two birds with one stone.
  12. Host a Minute to Win It Night – My best suggestion is to hit up Pinterest to decide which games you want to do for this one.  We did a few different ones that involved plastic cups so that we could get the most out of the supplies we had available.  We also did two activities that used a tissue box.  One activity was to see who could empty a tissue box faster removing the tissues one-by-one.  Once we had an empty tissue box, we used it for the Junk in the Trunk game.  Some of my most hilarious video footage from the Summer was from this night with friends.
  13. Go Camping
  14. Go on a Bike Ride
  15. Wash the Car
  16. Stargaze
  17. Help in the Yard
  18. Have a Lemonade Stand
  19. Play Glow Stick Horseshoes – We played glow stick horseshoes while we waited for the fireworks to start last Fourth of July.  As I noted last year, I found this cool activity posted by one of Design Dazzle‘s contributors, Jamie from C.R.A.F.T., titled Summer Camp: Glow In The Dark Ring Toss
  20. Do Sidewalk Chalk Drawings
  21. Write and Illustrate a Story
  22. Host a Talent Show – Hands down my favorite Summer Bucket List Item.  I have done this for the past two years.  Every family that participates has to have at least one child and one adult perform in the talent show.  We use my friend’s sound system, and families bring their chairs, some treats to share, and their talent.  We hold it in our backyard and it is such a fun night!  You can learn more about this activity by checking out my post The Power of a Bucket List, which also includes my first Summer Bucket List.
  23. Complete a Jigsaw Puzzle
  24. Get a Manicure and Pedicure
  25. Visit the Coast
  26. Read a Book, Then Watch the Movie – As mentioned in last year’s Free Printable Ultimate Summer Bucket List post,  Andrea’s Notebook is perfect to make your search easier for the right book-movie.  We did Nim’s Island last year, which my kids love.  I’m thinking we’ll do Charlotte’s Web this year.
  27. Build an Indoor Fort
  28. Play a Board Game
  29. Make Play Dough – I have not done this before.  I’m going to try out a no-cook Play Dough recipe I found on Laughing Kids Learn.  This recipe calls for glycerin, which is also found in the Mega Bubbles recipe (#36 on this list).  I had no idea where I could buy glycerin last year.  I ended up finding it at Walmart in the First Aid aisle.
  30. Sleep Wherever You Want Night – A friend of mine does this in her home sometimes.  The kids get to pick where they sleep that night.  Sometimes her kids have chosen to sleep in the closet or in an empty bathtub (ouch).  Kids just love to try something different.
  31. Pick a Craft to Make and Make It! – I am not crafty, so I was happy that my Mother-in-law took this item on with my girls.  They made charms out of clay.  She purchased the kit at Barnes and Noble, but I found the same Make Clay Charms byKlutz for cheaper on Amazon.

    Clay Charms
    Clay Charms
  32. Eat a Snow Cone
  33. Have a BBQ with Friends
  34. Watch Fireworks on July 4th
  35. Attend a Farmer’s Market or Festival
  36. Play with Mega-Bubbles – This one was a blast!  An important thing to note is that the mixture needs to sit for at least one hour before use.  I didn’t see that until after the kids were already geared up to start making bubbles right away.  Take that time into consideration.  Also, the more bubbles you make, the easier the mixture gets to use.  Last year, I used a Homemade Giant Bubble Recipe I found on the website Happy Hooligans.

    Mega Bubbles
    Mega Bubbles
  37. Read a Book in the Shade of a Tree
  38. Play Balloon Ping Pong – All you need are spoons, a balloon, and a table.

    Balloon Ping Pong
    Balloon Ping Pong
  39. Make a Backyard Obstacle Course – MyBFF and I set up this course for my girls to do, but we took our own turn at it.  We each  did the course one at a time and timed each other to see who could get through it the fastest.

    Backyard Obstacle Course
    Backyard Obstacle Course
  40. Go on a Scavenger Hunt – My favorite scavenger hunt to do is one where you have each letter of the alphabet with a blank line following it.  This makes it a little more flexible, plus it helps the younger ones work on the letters of the alphabet.  For instance, we had spent a couple of days with a scavenger hunt list and we had yet to find something that started with an “O.”  We went to watch a movie and during the movie one of my kids spotted an octopus, which gave us our “O” item.  I thought this was a fun way to integrate our activities.  Last year, we did the same type of scavenger hunt on a road trip to help the drive go smoother.
  41. Do a Science Experiment – Last year, I did a couple of science experiments that didn’t prove as exciting as I had hoped.  We did the paper towel/food coloring/water experiment, but it took too long for my kids attention span.  I plan to pull from BuzzFeed’s 24 Kids’ Science Experiments That Adults Can Enjoy, Too for this year’s experiment.

    Science Experiment
    Science Experiment
  42. Write & Mail a Letter to Someone
  43. Play Hide and Go Seek
  44. Go on a Date with Daddy
  45. Play Charades or Pictionary – Pictionary seems to be a crowd favorite at any age.  The best part is that all you need is a Game Word Generator, a large paper pad, and a pen.
  46. Have a “Late-Over” Night – I’m a “No Sleepover Type Mom.”  This is the alternative that I give my kids.  All the fun of a sleepover, but the other kids head home around 10 PM.
  47. Have a Tea Party – I have a friend who has four daughters.  It’s an absolute blast to co-host this one with her every Summer.
  48. Play at a Water Splash Pad
  49. Go to $1 Movie at Regal Cinemas – The 2015 Summer Movie Express includes nine weeks of kids movies offered for $1/person.
  50. Kids Cook Dinner Night

There you have it, Folks!  Please feel free to download the free printable version list of my 50 Fabulous Summer Bucket List Items.  Preparing this post has me pumped up for this coming Summer.  It was fun to remember all the activities we’ve done since I started this tradition two Summers ago.  I can’t wait to see what the Summer of 2015 has in store for us!

Our Parents’ Children

I was reading a book called Defending Jacob by William Landay for book club last month and I came across this line that read, “At some point as adults we cease to be our parents’ children and we become our children’s parents instead.”  I wrote it down because I know that it rings true in my life.  However, this past weekend, on Mother’s Day, I realized how much I still wanted to be “our parents’ children.”

Our Childrens' Parents

This Mother’s Day was particularly rough for some reason.  I did my best to hold it together.  A couple tears were shed here and there in the morning.  Then, we went on a little walk as a family with my dad and step-mom in the afternoon.  It was then, as I was hugging my dad goodbye, that I lost it.  I didn’t want to let my daddy go.  It was Mother’s Day and I wanted to be on the kid end of the day.  I wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day as a daughter.  Thankfully, I was able to hang on to my dad for a bit and cry while my husband took the kids and got them in the car.

Prior to losing my mother, I believed that the pain and emptiness of losing a loved one was due solely to their being gone.  I’ve learned that you also end up mourning the role you played in the relationship.  I am no longer a daughter to a mom, but fortunately, I still get to be a daughter to a dad.  I had never given it much thought until I stumbled upon a book that dealt with grieving.  Sadly, I have no recollection of the title or author.  What I do remember is that both of the author’s parents had passed away.  She spoke to the fact that she was no longer someone’s daughter.  I remember standing in the middle of the book store and thinking, “Thank goodness I still get to be a daughter to my dad.”  I’m not ready to stop being a parents’ child.

Being a daughter means different things in different families.  I played a large role in my mom’s life, as she had not remarried and we had always been particularly close. I did my best to be there for her whenever she needed me.  I made her my priority.  I don’t say this to boast, but just to express how much my role as a daughter to my mom made up my identity as a whole.  Though my relationship with my dad is a strong and healthy one, he remarried after my parents’ divorce and my role as his daughter is less involved.  So, while I am still a daughter to my dad, I continue to struggle with understanding the missing piece of me that was devoted to my role as a daughter to my mom.

But, as the quote says, “At some point…we cease to be our parents’ children and we become our children’s parents instead.”  That’s certainly the case for me.  My role as daughter, whether to my mom or my dad, has taken backseat to my role as parent.  It’s a demanding role, that doesn’t leave much room for lack of responsibility and vulnerability.  As a mom, I am called upon to be the strong one when my kids face trials or heartbreak.  I am the one that is meant to offer comfort.  I am the one that is supposed to have my act together.  While I am grateful for my role as a mom, I have not lost my desire to be a daughter still.

Sometimes, I just want to be the kid.  This past Mother’s Day was one of those days.  I wanted to have my dad hug me, tell me he loves me, and assure me that it’s gonna be alright.  And he did, as he has done several times in my life.

Our role as a child or a parent is a huge part of our identity.  I think my reason for sharing this topic today has more to do with me processing that concept than it is me trying to provide some sort of inspiration.  As I mentioned, in losing my mom, I was misled in thinking that my pain came only from the loss of her.  When she passed away, I also lost a part of me.  Acknowledging that fact and allowing me to mourn that loss, helps me to heal.  Thankfully, I still get to be a daughter to my Dad. It’s not just that I still have my Dad around, though that’s a blessing as well, but that I still get to be “our parents’ children.”  I can still cry into the shoulder of a parent who has known me all of my life and has watched me grow through all of my trials.  I hope that I can be for my kids, what my parents have been for me.  As true has Landay’s quote feels, I think I’ve decided I don’t want to cease being “our parents’ children;” I want to be both!  I suppose it’s a good thing that I believe in eternal families, as it provides me the opportunity to be both the child and the parent without end.