Memory making on the cheap

Summer provides a great opportunity for creating memories and experiences with your family for little to no money.  If you spend a little time scouting and planning, you can plan some really neat activities that would typically be too costly to partake in.

Lego Monthly Mini Model build

http://stores.lego.com/en-us/StoreEvents.aspx  (Ages 6-14)

I can’t wait to surprise the boys with this FREE outing.  My boys love Legos, and they love visiting the Lego store.  However, we don’t visit too often because it only creates a want in them that can’t be satisfied.  This will be a fun way to make a couple of trips to the Lego store AND walk out with a toy AND spend no money.

Regal Summer Movie Express

http://www.regmovies.com/specialvalues/

$1 G and PG movies every Tuesday and Wednesday through the summer.  Our boys love going to the theater, but we rarely go simply because it is just too expensive.

AMF Free Bowling for Kids 

https://freebowling.amf.com/

We signed up for this a couple of years ago, and it was a blast.  I would highly recommend this if you happen to live near an AMF.

Library Summer Reading programs

We love these.  The boys love reading anyway, but the excitement escalates as they fill in their reading chart knowing a prize is on the horizon.  It’s a great way to keep your kids reading through the summer.

Restaurant Kids Eat Free nights

I really love these.  Many restaurants allow 2 free kids meals with each adult purchase.  It is a great way to treat your kids to a night out to eat.  Plus you beat the weekend crowds as most programs are during the week.

Pool, lake, or spray park. –

We live in the Charlotte area and have a few of these spray parks nearby that are free.  When my boys were younger, we took advantage of these a lot.  Although they don’t believe they are too old for them, I’m scared they would accidentally take down an unsuspecting 3-year-old!  So now we just find a nearby soccer field that is watering the grass and let them go!

These are just a few ideas to get you started!

Overwhelmed at the thought of searching out ideas and planning them out?  Follow these tips:

  • Block out 1 hour of planning time-One hour of planning will save hours of frustration when you are in the midst of summer and running out of ideas.
  • Do a quick google search to check locations and dates of what you are interested in
  • Make a master list of all ideas that are appealing to your family
  • Sit down with the kids and allow them to help pick out their favorites
  • Make a summer fun calendar together
  • Add your selections to the calendar to make sure they actually happen

Happy Summer Planning!

Friday Night Chicken and Rice

 

Photo courtesy of Campbell’s Soup 

5 months pregnant with our first child, I sat on the bleachers watching my husband play in a church league softball game.  I was captivated by the interactions of the teenagers taking place in front of me on the bleachers.  To begin with I was impressed that on a Friday night they were at a church league softball game.  These teenagers stood out, they were different.  Comfortably they carried on conversations with the adults surrounding them.  They were the teenagers you watched in hopes that you would be so blessed one day.

Entering the scene was a nice looking teenage boy.  The greeting he received from the group on the bleachers was evidence that he was liked by all.  But what struck me was the beginning of his conversation with his friends.  As he bounded up the bleachers, one of the girls said, “Where were you tonight, why didn’t you meet us out for dinner.”  His reply, “Sorry about that, but it’s Friday night.  Friday night mom makes chicken and rice, and I never miss that.”

Wow!

The squeeze in my heart tightened as I thought about the little baby boy growing inside of me.  Would he choose to hang out with us over his friends on a Friday night?  How would we create an environment to compete with the world he would be bombarded with?  What exactly did his mom do to make Friday night Chicken and Rice so spectacular?  I wasn’t even that great of a cook.  How would I do it?

Over time the Lord revealed to me some key lessons that I endeavor to learn.

  • Relationship–  it’s key.  If you invest in the relationship now, you are laying the foundation for your relationship down the road.  Do you spend dedicated time together?  Do they feel loved and accepted?  Do they know that you love them unconditionally despite their failures and shortcomings?  Relationship means everything.
  • Time–  do you make time regularly to be together.  Is that time spent doing what they want?  During that time do they feel valued and loved?
  • Prayer- this is the gold nugget.  Prayer changes things.  Prayer will change the heart of a child.  Prayer will change the heart of a parent.  Prayer clears the path for a rich relationship.

I hadn’t thought about this memory for many years until we were with friends about a year ago and their son triggered the memory.  One of my best friends prepared a delicious mexican feast of tacos for us.  Her son, Jack, walked in the room and said, “What are we having for dinner?”  Stephanie replied, “Tacos.”  Jack’s response revived that squeeze in my heart I felt 8 years before when he said, “But it’s not Taco Tuesday.”

You see Jack’s family created a tradition of having tacos every Tuesday.  A simple meal enjoyed together each week.  They knew what to expect, they longed for Tuesday to come.  Acceptance, belonging, security, and love were wrapped in a taco shell.

It’s the little things.  It’s the simple things.  It’s the just doing it.  It’s the deciding to do something, to create something.  It’s making a footprint.  It’s building a legacy.

One small step

 

When it comes to our family histories or our current family situations, we all start from a different place.  No matter your past, you have the ability to change the future for your own family if you so desire.  Maybe you don’t need to do anything different from what you grew up with, but you feel that you are failing on doing as well of a job as your own family did with you as a child.   You want to create the same relationships with your children that your parents created with you.  Or you want to create better relationships with your kids than what you grew up with.

Life today is different from even just one generation ago.  More distractions, a busier lifestyle, and a faster pace of life make it more difficult to carve out time and space to really connect with our loved ones.

I love Nike’s “Just Do It” motto.  If you want to do it, it’s simple, just do it.  Well, we may not always feel capable of just doing it.  Life can be more complicated than we would prefer at times.  Though you may not feel that you can “just do it” in making a change in your family, you can just do something.

  • Set a goal–  What is your goal?  The most succesful people in making positive changes in their lives are goal setters.  Not only will they set a goal, they will write it down.  Studies show that when we write down our goal, we are exponentially more likely to accomplish that goal than if we don’t write it down.  It is important to be realistic  with your goal.  Set a goal worth setting, but don’t make it impossible to reach.  With each goal reached, you can always set a new goal.
  • Be intentional–  You know you want to create moments in time that your family will treasure.  So you must be intentional with your time or your time will vanish into thin air before you realize it.  Make a plan for what you want to do with the time you will carve out.  Figure out how you can carve out the time you want.  Does your family regularly eat on the road between activities and you desire to have regular family meals?  Look at your calendars and schedules, determine what can be eliminated or shifted around, make your goal the priority, and make it happen.
  • Act on it–  You’ve set your goal, you’ve intentionally carved out the time and made your plan to achieve your goal.  Now act on it.  Put it into action.
  • Take one small step everyday- You can’t reach your goal overnight, and you shouldn’t try.  When we are impatient in the process of reaching our destination, we often will become frustrated and throw our hands up thinking it is impossible to make the change.  But if you take one small step every day, you will be amazed when you reach your goal and look back on  all that was accomplished.

My oldest son just completed 2nd grade.  One of his nightly assignments was to read 10 pages.  He is a lover of books, so I thought this would be a breeze.  Until our schedules kicked into full gear and he was exhausted from a full day of school, chores, activities, etc.   However, he remained diligent to read nightly.  At the end of the year the teacher handed out scrolls to each of the children to show them how many pages they read over the entire school year.  Each child was blown away by the results.  They couldn’t believe that reading a simple 10 pages a day, could amount to thousands of pages collectively.  One student read 5,800 pages!  My son read 1,302 pages and was so proud of himself.  What  a great lesson for them to learn so early that when we set our minds to something and act on it daily, great things can be accomplished.

One small step a day.  Given time you will reach the top of that stairway, grab ahold of your goal, and realize it was worth every small step taken to get there.

Resources for goal setting:

http://www.goal-setting-guide.com/step-5-write-your-goal-down

http://family-life.familieswithpurpose.com/setting-family-goals/

http://blog.mysanantonio.com/stepfaniebishop/2012/05/creating-summer-goals-for-your-family/

Resources for being intentional with your family:

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx?ID=%7BD016C451-E6DE-443A-A32D-BC038A2AA02D%7D

http://www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/2012/04/being-intentional/