Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Fun Jar

We are really into having fun around here.  I like to think that we work hard, and we play hard.

The summer days are flying by as fast as a wet kid on a slip 'n' slide.  So we decided to institute a Summer Fun Jar. We like to bike and swim and do summer reading, VBS, and the $1 movies, and we try to bike to the summer concerts in our village every Wednesday, but I thought that one "extra" fun thing every week would help create some lasting memories.  Also, there are some things, like exploring nature, that I want to do more of and if we aren't intentional, it never happens.  

And here's another thing ... my first-born child is turning nine next month.  Nine!  That's halfway until she leaves for college (most likely).  That's halfway to grown-up.  Talk about the days flying by ... it's the years that are flying by too!!  I guess I am realizing that if you don't seize the moments, they will be gone all too quickly and you won't have opportunities to do these kinds of things.  The dust bunnies can wait.  They will still be there when Meredith leaves for college.  

Every Monday the kids get to pick one fun thing from the jar.  They love the surprise element involved.

The things listed below are just some fun things I came up with one night while sitting at my computer.  I'd love to hear any other ideas that you all have.  I have a feeling we will modify this list every year and the Fun Jar will become an old friend who makes an appearance every summer!

Here's my list:

Sometime this week … go on a hike at the Lion’s Park nature loop.  Bring your water shoes so you can go creek stomping if you want to!  Bring a Ziploc bag to collect some treasures from nature. 

Sometime this week … go on a hike at Holliday park.  Before the hike, go to the nature center and get the scavenger hunt pages to fill out.  Bring a picnic lunch.  Make sure that you slide down every slide they have.  (There are 17 slides!) 

Sometime this week … take a vote on what your favorite park is.  If you can’t decide, draw numbers and whoever gets the highest number gets to pick the park.  Take a picnic to the park and play. 

Sometime this week … ride bikes to the splash park at Mulberry Fields.  Eat ice cream when you get home to cool off. 

Sometime this week … go to the Indianapolis Zoo.  Make sure you see the new orangutan exhibit. 

Sometime this week … go to the Indianapolis Zoo.  If it’s hot, bring your swim suits and get wet at the splash park. 

Sometime this week … go to Eagle Creek Park.  Take a hike and visit the nature center and ornithology center.   Take a picnic to our favorite cove by the lake.  See if the beach is open.  If it is, visit the beach. This might take you all day long!

Sometime this week … gather two different objects from around the house and then get some flowers from outside, and paint all of these things.  Pick your favorite painting and hang it on the fridge. 

Sometime this week … it’s Meredith’s turn to pick something she wants to learn how to cook and make it for dinner with mom.  Sophia and Clara can pick out a dessert to make with mom. 

Sometime this week … it’s Clara’s turn to pick something she wants to learn how to cook and make it for dinner with mom.  Sophia and Meredith can pick out a dessert to make with mom. 

Sometime this week … ride bikes to Dairy Queen and get a chocolate dipped cone. 

Sometime this week … make something paper mache together, or research another fun craft idea on Pinterest.

Sometime this week … make a fancy cake and some invitations and have a tea party.  Invite some friends to join us.

Sometime this week … visit the IMA. Look for a painting you really love and tell why.  Make your own art in the Star Gallery.

Sometime this week … go downtown and have lunch with dad.  Visit the central library and pick out some fun and interesting books.

Sometime this week … have a sleepover on the living room floor with your parents (well, at least your mom …).

Sometime this week … go to the Monon Center and ride all the water slides.  Invite some friends to meet us there.

Sometime this week … head to the roller skating rink for a family fun night. 

Sometime this week … take a vote (dad is the tie-breaker): should we go mini-golfing or bowling? 


The Outer Banks had been calling to us since the last time we visited, when Clara was a year old.  Here is my post about going to the same beach house in September, 2008, and another, and another.  Back then I was a much better (if better means "more diligent") blogger!

I can't say I was looking forward to the 14 hour drive.  Indiana is apparently the Crossroads of America, which means we are somewhere in the middle, where the intersections apparently assemble, and you have to drive a long way to get anywhere exciting.  Haha!  A long car trip with an 18-month-old, the worst age for travel in my opinion, was something to be dreaded.  But Carson did unbelievably awesome. Whenever he started getting out of control, one of his sisters took over and provided ceaseless distractions.  Thank God for big sisters. 

Here are the four junior travelers:

We stopped at Kitty Hawk and visited the national monument to the Wright Brothers and the corresponding museum.  It was one of the more inspiring places I've been.  A lot of landmarks show the negative aspects of history (war and other tragedy).  This landmark was about pure invention, vision, patience, tenacity and final illumination.  The hill behind Meredith, in this picture below, is where the Wright brothers conducted all of their hang glider experiments.  

This rock is where the first flight took off.  The rocks beyond show where the first, second, third and fourth flights ended.

Pretty awesome!  The first flight on Dec. 17, 1903 set in motion the course of events that led to the first landing on the moon less than 66 years later!  This would have boggled the minds of the Wright brothers, especially in the heat of their often discouraging and unsuccessful experimentation.   

Milling around after a presentation on the Wright brothers' experiments.

Our little clowns.

We were thrilled that my parents flew out from California to join us for a week at the beach!  It was our first joint vacation.  Hopefully there will be many more, as our kids get older and we venture out west more. Here they are at the top of the monument hill, with a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean.

This little dude spends a lot of time in his stroller.  If we unstrap him for a moment, he's off with lightening speed.  He was the fastest crawler I'd ever seen and now he is the fastest little toddler runner!

About a half hour south of Kitty Hawk, we arrived at our beach house.  Hooray!  Let the relaxing times begin. We are ready for it!!

The view from the deck, outside the breakfast nook. One of my favorite things was sleeping with the windows open and allowing the sound of crashing waves lull me to sleep every night.  There is nothing like it.

A girl with a boatload of sand and a cup ... endless entertainment.

My dad has always been a kid magnet.  Our kids love him and can't get enough.  I'm lucky to have had a dad like him!

Sophia with her personalized sand mountain.

Carson loved all the attention and loved jumping over the waves with grandma!

We enjoyed a bonfire on the beach right in front of our beach house.  So convenient.  If you forget something, it's not a big deal to go back and get it!  This was a great memory, watching the tide come in, feeling the cool breezes, sitting next to a smoky warm fire.

Just south of our beach house is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in North America.  Last time we were here we couldn't climb it because our kids were too young to walk it by themselves and you can't carry children on the winding stairs.  My parents watched Carson and the rest of us made the climb.  The park ranger was skeptical that Sophia could make it.  What he didn't know about Sophia, that we knew very well, is that she is the toughest little girl known to mankind.  Our money was on Sophia.  We knew she could do it, and she did!

At the top!  What a great view of the Atlantic and the sound.  

Clara read "Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie" in school this last year.  She wanted her picture at the top of the Lighthouse to send to her teacher, Mrs. Winkle. :)

Just watching my favorite people playing at the beach ...

Fun in the sun ...

The kids all agreed that their favorite experience was crabbing.  They went out with their flashlights late at night, with dad and grandpa helping.  It was peak crab season when we were there, and the crabs love to come out in hoards when it's dark.  Since we are very sophisticated, the kids caught all their crabs with a plastic cup and put them in a paper bag.  Who needs nets, anyway?  Clara who is fearless, and a little crazy, caught several big ones barehanded.  (She is also famous in our neighborhood for being able to catch house flies barehanded on her first attempt.  A brilliant future in pest extermination awaits her, if she wants it.)

Many lunches were eaten right on the beach.

Dad and Meredith went out swimming a few times.

We took the ferry to Ocracoke Island again.  It started raining and we took shelter at a restaurant overlooking the wharf.  This is where Blackbeard's ship sank and he was beheaded somewhere nearby.  Lovely thoughts to ruminate upon during dinner.

The short walk from our house to the beach ... here is my family beyond the crest of the dune.  Such an idyllic scene that I couldn't help but snap a picture.

We spent many nights on the deck looking at the constellations, which is a favorite topic in our house.  On our final morning at the beach house, the adults all rose early enough to sit and watch the sun rise over the Atlantic.  No hurrying.  Just being.  Watching.  Appreciating.  Quiet conversation and then silence as the fiery orb made its appearance.  It was worth setting the alarm.

On our way out, we stopped at Uglie Mugs and my dad bought us all some coffee and treats.  

Look at these ugly mugs, all lined up in a row.  I guess these mugs are famous in the Carolinas?  Hysterical. 

We are so glad my parents came to join our week.  Could we please stay two weeks?  Could we please come every year?  It was wonderful.  Sometimes you don't realize how crazy life is until you stop for a week and just sit around and do puzzles and take long walks on the beach and take time to watch the sun rise.  

The lovely Blue Ridge Mountains ... of course a picture never does it justice.  But they are beautiful ... The kids did great.  I can't wait for our next road trip.