Sometimes we spend so much time in life saying things like “I’m going to clean those bathrooms”, “I’d love to see the ocean some time”, “Gosh, I’ve gotta drop a few pounds.” Or “I should call my grandmother, brother, sister or father” and “I really should have said I was sorry.” Sometimes we toss around the I-have-to’s and I-need-to’s all the while making time for things we never intended to take our time. Well, this summer I am saying yes to time well spent.
You see there is plenty of it! I know we live under the false impression that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but I think we’ve slowly been conditioned to accept that notion. I am painfully aware of my children getting older right now, to the point where I get a little weepy after Mr. Noah has fallen asleep and I look at old photos with his baby baby full cheeks. He’s seven now, sure of himself and determined. He’s everything I’ve ever hoped and prayed for. He’s a boy that I’ve lost many a night’s sleep praying over and championing.
I’ve done most of my parenting wrong, I’ll admit. I’m too hot-tempered and worried, and I likely fit the bill when it comes to helicopter parenting out of fear. One thing I’m sure of, I must say, is I’m a proud mama when it comes to the amount my children are loved. We have covered them in prayer and honestly enjoyed every stage of their growing.
Noah is such a joy; he’s a gift. And now you throw Milo, our tiny fighter, in the mix and we’ve got this incredible family dynamic that deserves our follow-through in the small things. Like, hey, let’s pick strawberries today! Or let’s find a river to dig our toes into! Children are our excuse to revel and wonder at all God has given us to enjoy in life. You may be saying, “Oh, I have no children” or “Mine are grown.” You can always embrace a childlike wonder and set a bucket list to make a stand against lost time. And even if you’ve got no one to take along, you can take the Lord where you go. He’s an ever-present friend, one who won’t leave your side. He will lift your spirits and mend your heart.
It’s officially the first week of summer. We’ve just moved into a new home, and I’ve decided to make a list and scribble a line one-by-one through all the fun things on it. Mike and I work full-time together, and sometimes the easy thing to do with 15 minutes of down time is to scroll through our phones checking emails or looking through Instagram. BUT I’ve decided that this summer we trade those moments for memories. We will do rather than say “we should have” or “need to.”
Sometimes I feel exhausted by 8 am just thinking of all the tasks I need to accomplish. Rather than giving in to this feeling, why not say, hey, I’ve got 10 minutes -- let’s set a timer and get something done. When someone I love pops into my mind I’m calling them for five minutes to tell them I love them. I’m taking Noah everywhere with me, even if it’s easier to leave him home. A quick trip to the store or up to do laundry. Our children need our example far more than our lectures. I’m preaching to the choir, I’m sure!
Most of all I’m saying yes to slow, yes to talking and having meaningful life-giving conversations with my girlfriends. I’m going to sip cold brew and do all the things I talk about.
This summer I want to glance at the items on my list and check ‘em off! It’s going pretty well! I’ve included some fun things to do with your family if you are running out of ideas.
1. Make photo albums
2. Invite a friend over, with or without kids, every week
3. Send your kiddos to a cute VBS
4. Go to get spot prawns at Deception Pass
5. Go berry picking, find a farm near you, and have a blast getting stained fingers and watching your kids really love it
6. Make play dough
7. Make pasta together
8. Find a beach and get your feet wet – mom, too! Don’t just take your kids to a park and scroll thru your phone while they play. Actually engage with them and play alongside them
9. Go to a movie together. Find the economy pricing; often, the very first showing is only a few dollars! We saw The Incredibles 2 for only $6 a ticket at the 11 am show
10. Show your kids what a grocery budget looks like at the store. Okay, Mom’s got $100 and we need as much good food as possible for this money. Everyone helps make wise choices!
11. Go antiquing and thrifting! For every item you buy, one should leave your home
12. Make care packages for the homeless. Dollar store tooth paste and tooth brushes go a long way for those in need
13. Turn off the TV unless it’s family movie time
14. Group drawing or painting session
15. Get together with friends for coffee at each other’s homes, and let the kids play while the moms visit. Just make sure to give yourself 20 minutes before parting ways and have everyone pitch in to pick up messes so you don’t feel overwhelmed after guest’s kids trash the house! COLD BREW RECIPE LINK
16. Hit the local Goodwill toy section and let your kids pick a cheap, fun toy
17. Look up the local library reading schedules as they often have free great activities for kiddos – and air-conditioning
18. Look up your local art museum and check out free days as they often have summer activities
19. Go to the zoo. We have a membership to the Woodland Park Zoo, and it gets plenty of mileage in the summer
20. Have a yard sale! Help the kids sell lemonade or cookies on the sidewalk. I did this every summer growing up!
21. Pack a bunch of snacks and go for a drive to the beach or the mountain
22. Make waffle iron pizzas for lunch
23. Build a fort in the living room and let the kids sleep there
24. Sleep outside once and ONLY ONCE because I’m not a coyote…
Homemade Cold Brew Coffee
1 quart of water
1/2 cup of your favorite coffee bean grounds (for French press, you want a slightly larger grind)
Mix the grounds with the water in a container with a tight sealing lid. Mix it well and allow to steep in the fridge for 24 hours. Remove the coffee and pour it through a fine mesh sieve or filter. Place the cold brew in a jar. It keeps in the fridge for several days. Serve over ice with cream and brown sugar syrup.
To make the brown sugar syrup, dissolve 1 cup of brown sugar into 1 cup of warm water. This keeps in the fridge for up to 7 days.
Buttermilk, Cherry, and Pistachio Cake
Makes one 10-inch cake
3/4 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. buttermilk powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 cup cream or half and half
1 cup pitted, chopped fresh cherries
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cake pan with a square of parchment paper, and make sure to leave an overhang in case the cake expands too much during baking. The paper aids in taller sides. Cream butter and sugar until smooth, and add each egg, beating after each addition. Add salt, vanilla, flour, buttermilk powder, and baking powder and cream and mix until it’s thick, smooth, and just comes together. Do not overmix. This batter is very thick. Spread into your cake pan. Evenly sprinkle the cherries and pistachios all over the top of the cake. Bake for 45-60 minutes.* Allow cake to cool, then dust with powdered sugar. Slice and enjoy with cold brew coffee & cream, with a splash of brown sugar syrup.
*Because there is a high fat content in this cake, it will puff up and bake, then settle flat with a deep golden brown chewy top. The weight of the cherries will cause them to sink into the cake, and that’s okay. It’s a moist and delicious cake that’s very hard to ruin. Feel free to substitute any fresh chopped fruit and nuts.