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The last few summers, I’ve been posting charts for the kids, reminding them to read, practice their instruments, spend some time keep up on their math skills, and challenging them to find ways to serve and/or volunteer. It isn’t that having a progress chart is a bad thing, but I thought we could do something better. For me, work comes as easily as breathing, and while I can appreciate that not everyone thinks the same as me, I find it fun. News flash: it generally isn’t fun, in the sense that it’s relaxing, carefree, rejuvenating, and a way to bond with other people, who might not find sweeping out the garage or redoing the bathroom ceiling tile as rewarding as me (hint: my kids). So I took it upon myself to make a Summer Fun Chart to remind me to take time off from the daily grind once in while so none of us get burned out.

Homemade peanut butter chocolate ice cream in homemade waffle bowls. 🤤

Since I love lists and crossing things off as much as I love work, it turned out to be a beneficial exercise for me to see how many things we could do in the short time between the kids finishing school until fall, when our activities inevitably change.


For the most part, I think we put in a great effort trying to get as many things knocked off our list as we could. We went bowling, made ice cream, and baked all kinds of treats, from homemade donut holes, to fresh-out-of-the-oven caramel corn.


We had a few late nights, sometimes with everyone, sometimes with select children, putting together puzzles or waiting for the fireflies to come out so we could catch them.


We made it to Holiday World–twice–thanks to a good deal we couldn’t pass up. We love out amusement parks!


Everyone got at least one haircut before they headed back to school. No one did anything drastic this time, but everyone looked adorable when finishing.


We went to so many parks. They’re everywhere! It was a good exercise in saying yes when the kids would spy a park while we were out and about. Every single of one of them was enjoyable, no matter how long or short we were able to stay.


One of the very first items we crossed off our list was to bring cookies to a local fire station. What’s not to love about it? Making cookies to share, getting a private tour of the station, and feeling good about serving those who serve us? Yes, please!


Even with Jack’s broken foot, we still squeezed in a couple of hikes. He was still walking when we found gobs of chanterelles, but by Labor Day, he was off his feet because he’d broken his foot. While it has been a bummer to have to slow down, it’s also led to some other fun opportunities, like when we were camping at the Indiana Dunes, and we found out the offer an off-road scooter for FREE to use on their trails. He gunned it along those paths, carrying the weary kids, and all our supplies like it was nothing. Favorite hike EVER!


We had a few decent-sized trips this summer, too. We spent time in Alabama, Nebraska, the Indiana Dunes, and we rarely sat still for any of it. In Alabama, we visited the USS Alabama, which is a war ship used in WWII that’s been converted into a museum. Naval history isn’t one of my primary interests, but storytelling is. I can only imagine the kinds of tales the men on those ships had to tell after their tours of duty.


Animals are a huge chunk of where my fascination lies. Call me crazy, but I can’t help it. That means when I’m in Nebraska, I tend to drift over to Omaha, to the Henry Doorly Zoo. I may be biased, but it’s one of the best in the world. If you’ve ever visited before, you know I’m not lying. What a fun day animal watching with the cousins!


Not all of our fun was had miles from home, and in formal settings. We made quite a few memories together in our backyard. Running through the sprinklers? Check. Swimming in the pond? Check. Water balloon fight? For about fifteen seconds, until all the balloons were gone, CHECK.


Kate’s favorite (and really, everyone else’s) might have been when Jack took us to visit a litter of Australian shepherds not far from us. Raven, as good a dog as she is, is getting older, and we’re considering getting a dog that’ll be more useful, i.e. keeping the foxes from killing the chickens. We didn’t end up getting a puppy, but spent enough time on their farm to get a taste of what puppyhood would be like.


We had plans to go camping more often (I mean, who doesn’t love sleeping on the ground, being eaten alive by bloodthirsty insects, and smelling like B.O. and campfire smoke? KIDDING. But, kind of not), but our plans were slightly derailed by Jack’s bum foot. He WOULD NOT let our trip to the Indiana Dunes pass us by because of a silly broken bone, though. He and his sister had made camping reservations a full six months in advance so we could camp over Labor Day weekend. We had to modify out usual routine a bit, mostly meaning that I became a pack mule since Jack couldn’t carry much of anything, but a good time was had by all. Minus the biting insects. They really did suck. (Ba dum, ching!).


I think our goal that we laughed at the most was when we took the kids to a junior rodeo. There were some fantastic ponies that toted toddlers around with a meekness and obedience that had to be genetic, and some of the kids being bucked off bulls are a lot tougher than I am. When it came time to mutton bust, Henry, Zoey, and Peter showed ’em how it’s done!


We didn’t accomplish everything on our list before the season changed, but we got a good start on our list. We’ve already made a new Fall Fun list, and pretty much everything we didn’t get to over summer will roll over into autumn. I could have spent the whole summer, knee deep in sawdust, or hanging from a ladder, trying to paint something on the house, but I’m so glad I had the kids help me put together this list as a reminder that sometimes I need to stop working and just have fun. So many memories were made, and I hope it means we’re a stronger, happier, healthier family because of it.

Can’t wait until next summer!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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