I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
Summer is a great time to relax.
The weather is warm, the skies are blue, and sunshine is smiling on everything.
Summer is the perfect time to curl up with a book or have an Anne of Green Gables movie marathon.
Nothing relaxes me more than lying on a beach chair listening to the waves crash on the shore. Soon, I am far away in a happy places. Oops! I hope someone is watching my kids!
Summer is a great time to make memories.
We love to swim in the pool, play games, craft, scrapbook, enjoy museums, and visit amusement parks in the summer. Afternoons at the playground or discovering where a dirt road leads are fun, too!
Summer is a great time to learn.
We always take a break from formal schooling in the summer, but learning continues on. After all, we live a lifestyle of learning as homeschooling families. There is always something to discover and investigate!
With all of this in mind, here are some happy ideas to celebrate summer, make memories, learn new things, and have a blast this summer!
Here in Florida, swimming is part of life. There are lakes, pools, springs, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico to swim in.
I remember taking swimming lessons as a little girl at a neighbor's pool. I blew bubbles underwater and learned to float.
My children grew up in the water, too, but we taught them to swim ourselves, introducing them to the water while they were still in diapers.
I definitely recommend swim lessons if you can afford them. All children should be safe near water. You never know when you will have to swim to escape danger or help rescue someone.
The other day, we were swimming with my grandchildren and children in their neighborhood pool. Rusty got out of the pool, took off his floaties, and jumped back in. "He can't swim!" my son-in-law said sharply as I was watching him struggle in a state of shock. That jolted me and I scooped him up. My heart was pounding as I realized how quickly accidents happen.
It reminded me of my baby sister who did the same thing. Took off her floatie and jumped right back into our next-door neighbor's pool. My neighbor Tommy jumped in and saved her life. She had quickly sunk to the bottom of the deep end.
All children should be able if they jump or fall in a pool, lake, or other body of water to swim, escaping to safety.
If you are looking for lessons or teaching children yourself, here are some steps to take babies and toddlers on their first steps to swim proficiency.
The beach is a great place to explore. You and your children can have all kinds of learning adventures along the shore, in the tide pools, and climbing the sand dunes.
Here are some great ways to learn at the beach.
Engineer a Castle that withstands the Waves
Here’s a great STEM project. Construct a castle with a moat that will withstand the occasional wave. This might take several tries.
Mark Off the Tides
Place a sturdy stick that will withstand the waves every hour at the average place where the waves stop before rolling back. Then figure out how many feet the tide changes each hour. Estimate where it will be in 2 or 3 hours.
Explore a Tide Pool
When the tide goes out, a tide pool is often left behind. Explore the tide pool for little creatures.
Bring along a sketch pad, or easel with paper and pretend you are a world famous artist working on your next masterpiece. You can sketch the waves and the sky or zero in on a bird.
We are up and running. It’s a brand-new year. So much to be excited about. It’s hard to believe that soon this school year will just be a memory.
My Missing Photos
I have been homeschooling since 1991 and as I look back at our photo albums—yes, I used to get photos printed and put them in albums before digital—I find one set of photos missing. The photos of my children reading, working on a math problem, reading to a sibling, or doing chores.
I have lots of photos of birthdays, holidays, field trips, and special days, but I wish I had more photos of ordinary school days.
Maybe you do take lots of photos of school and chores, posting them on Instagram for the world to see. Good for you! You will treasure those memories one day.
Storing My Photos
As you go through the school year, don’t forget to snap photos and save mementos. Maybe you don’t scrapbook or print photos and put them in leather albums, but you can label and save them in folders.
I don’t print up photos much anymore, unless I am framing them, but I do label photos with the date and list the people in the photo. Sometimes I just use initials like this: “Christmas Day 2016 JR JA Dad Jim KB Rusty.”
My photos are organized on my computer, too. There is one folder for every year: 2000, 2001, 2002, etc. Then, I also have all twelve months in separate folders: Jan 2015, Feb 2015, March 2015, etc. Inside these folders are all kinds of folders: Beach 6 6 15, Road Rally 6 17 15, Mom’s BD 6 2 15, etc. These folders are descriptive, so I can easily remember the day by looking at the title.
All the Gospels in the New Testament devote several chapters to the last week of Jesus’ life.
After all, there was so much going on that final week when Jesus took the sins of the whole world on Himself and died for us.
Satan thought he won, but he lost! Jesus rose from the dead on the third day!
When Holy Week and Easter roll around, I want my children to learn about and celebrate everything!
Besides being real history, this week is foundational for our faith in Jesus.
So, let me give you a birds’ eye view of the last week of Jesus life and ways to celebrate with your family.
Dinner at Simon's House
Starting on Saturday, Jesus dined with Simon the Leper in Bethany. Bethany was where Lazarus, whom he had just raised from the dead, and his sisters Mary and Martha lived. Anyway, while Martha served, Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. Jesus said that she had anointed Him for burial and commended her.
Family Fun: Give one another foot rubs
(Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-9)
Triumphal Arrival in Jerusalem
On Sunday, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The people were so excited, they worshipped Him, as well as spreading cloaks and palm branches on the ground for Him to ride over.
Family Fun: Dress up and act out the Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem
(Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19)
I love take-offs. The excitement of acceleration and lifting above the clouds.
Whether it's a trip to Texas, Philadelphia, California, or Minnesota, every vacation is an exciting adventure. Each place has its own history. And, of course, delicious food.
It is so exciting to visit other countries, hear other languages, explore other cultures. What fun to get out the passport and see the nations!
God has opened the door for me to visit Europe three times. I took my older three daughters to London in 2011, the whole family visited the Netherlands in 2012, and we traveled to Italy this year.
In London, we stayed in a hostel, planned our own itinerary, and went everywhere on the Tube (London's subway). In the Netherlands we rented an apartment in Den Hague (cheaper than Amsterdam), bought a train pass, and made day trips to castles, Harlem (to see Corrie ten Boom's museum), Amsterdam, and Belgium. Everything was close and we had a blast. Our last trip was to Italy and we tried something new: a guided tour. We flew into Venice and traveled throughout Italy on a tour bus, flying home from Rome. The tour was a wonderful way to see everything we could possibly imagine in Italy.
I just hosted a baby shower and we had a blast playing a brand new game, The Price is Right.
You’re right! It’s based on an old TV show with a baby shower twist.
The Price is Right Baby Shower game is the perfect game to entertain guests at a baby shower.
It’s quite fun to see your guests pricing skills!
Everyone was laughing and having a great time while we played.
The game is easy to play, and afterward, all of the products from the game can be given to the new mom as an extra gift.
What is so great about this game?
Well, each element can be customized to fit the baby shower theme.
From the items you purchase, down to creating the handout – You can be as creative as you want to be!
What You Need for Game
Pike's Peak is one tall mountain!
My daughter Julianna was taking a semester off work to attend Ellerslie, a Bible college out in Colorado. I decided to fly out with her a few days early so we could see a little of Colorado.
"Let's go to Pike's Peak!" she suggested.
"Hiking?" I asked, shuddering inside. People do hike up and down Pike's Peak, you know.
"No, not hiking," she laughed. "They have a little railroad."
Little railroad, as in tiny railroad, tiny tracks, and big tall mountain?
I was nervous, so I went online to research and discovered:
After 34 years, can you still slow dance with your husband in the living room by candlelight? I think so!
My friend Felice and I just recorded a radio show on date nights and it got me thinking about our romantic dates when we didn't have enough money to go out to dinner or see a movie.
Sometimes we would just bring a CD player to a romantic spot and dance under the moonlight. Other times we would slow dance in the living room with the lights down low.
As time goes on, you can forget to do romantic things because it's easier to go our to dinner or see a show.
I think this month, I'll find some songs on YouTube and slow-dance with my husband in the living room.
Here are some songs that are romantic and fun to dance to. Most of them are oldies, of course, because I'm getting to be an oldie myself.
One of my favorite songs. I sung this to my husband in church ten years ago on our anniversary. Says it all. Not perfect, but definitely happily ever after.
An even older song called Still the One. "Still the One" by Orleans. Can you remember Orleans, anyone? This was popular when I was in high school, or earlier maybe. My hubby is still the one.
What’s more fun than going to a bowling alley?
Playing giant bowling!
Every month our Young Adult group meets to fellowship, get into the Word, and have fun playing different games. We always plan a dinner that tastes great, and is easy to make. We also like to have bible studies, times where we can encourage each other and share what the Lord has been teaching us lately, watch sermons.
We also like to have fun!
Our group loves improv, so many times the games are some type of improv game. However, while searching the internet, we found a giant, inflatable version of bowling, with the bowling pins and ball.
With a little brain storming, we decided on playing three different versions of bowling. We found a miniature set (the ball was the size of a marble), and used a child’s plastic bowling set (that a friend had) for the third game. It is fun to go bowling, but even more fun when you can come up with your own versions of bowling games!
Below are the 3 games we played and the instructions. You certainly don’t have to play the games exactly as we did (even we changed the games as we went), but this can be a great starting point to spark your creativity!
These are the bowling games we decided on:
I love summer! That's why I live in Florida. We enjoy summer nine months a year.
For those of you in other places where you are blessed to enjoy all four seasons, you are probably excited to pull out the swimsuits and plan outings to the lake, or beach.
It's a season for all of us to stop and enjoy the Summer Joys.
What are summer joys?
Those delightful adventures and amusements of summer.
Let's start this delightful season by making a summer bucket list. What things do you really want to do this summer? How about your husband? Your children? Have a blast this summer!
I have some great suggestions for you. They are all simple and cheap!