Fashion… Indian Summer…

Here in Virginia we have hit that time of year where everything says it’s autumn…

…except the weather.

Why hello, Indian Summer!

Just when you thought fall was here, and you broke out your cozy sweaters and heavy flannels, the temperatures decide to rise up into the high 80s. But how could you possibly drink that pumpkin spice latte when you’re wearing a sleeveless tank and bare legs???

So last fall I decided enough was enough. Obviously the weather was going to do its thing whether I liked it or not, and, quite frankly, I liked being outside enjoying it, not hunkered down in a temperature-regulated building, pretending. So I started to wonder if there was a way I could dress that made me feel like I was getting my autumn, but could also be comfortable, regardless of the hot temperatures. Here is what I found…

Color matters… When fall comes along, I change my palate. I tuck away most of my pale blues, bright whites, and soft pinks and start to bring out forest greens, navys, chestnut browns, and reds. I might be wearing a tank top, but the color says autumn. This year I specifically updated my wardrobe with two tanks from Target, one in a muted grey-green and the other in a stripe of navy and reds, and they are adding just the right deepness to my outfits’ coloring.

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Fabric matters… The arrival of autumn time has me reaching for a different type of fabric. This is the time of year when I break out my suede skirts, but wear them with tanks and leather espadrilles rather than winter’s cashmere turtlenecks and boots. I also find that denim gives me that autumnal feel, but I make sure that it is the kind with plenty of stylish holes for sufficient ventilation. Ha!

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Pattern matters… The pattern of the fabric can change the feel of an outfit from summery to autumnal. A perfect example of this is my buffalo plaid tunic. The shirt is an altered version of its former self; the original being a long sleeve, loose-fitting tunic from Hanna Andersen. A tear in the arm a few years ago inspired its current silhouette, a short-sleeve, A-line top. It is ideal for the warm temperatures of Indian summer with its cotton fabric and short sleeves, while the red and blue buffalo plaid gives a nod to autumn.

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Texture matters… Texture plays a large role in my choices this time of year. I try to integrate cotton sweaters with a chunkier knit than the more delicate sweaters I choose in spring and summer. For example, I have a vest of cream cotton yarn that I often wear. Its chunky weave gives the impression that I am wearing heavier, warmer clothing, even if I am wearing it over a sleeveless tank.

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Layering matters… I like to wear my clothing with more layering in the autumn. I feel like this gives the impression of coziness. During our Indian summertime, I will often put a lightweight vest over a tank or wear a sheer scarf around my neck with a sundress. The layers I choose are generally cotton and sheer so that I stay cool, but the mere act of layering again reminds one of the cooler temperatures of fall.

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Shoes matter… My shoes choices in the early autumn can greatly affect the overall feel of an outfit. While I am still wearing my sundresses with bare legs in an effort to stay cool, I usually choose to wear a heavier shoe. Often that means ankle or cowboy boots. Other times I choose clogs, moccasins, or my leather espadrilles. I like that the heavier shoe hints at cooler weather without making me physically too hot.

And to tell you the truth, the challenge of Indian summer has been a real treat. I have increased my contentment with the season. I am not depressed when an autumn day has highs in the 80s, and I do not end the season feeling as though I have missed fall.

And then there is the benefit that did not occur to me until well after the fact. The challenge has also kept my closet interesting to me. In an effort to make my summery clothes appear autumnal, I have been forced to look at them in a new way. It has helped to prevent me from becoming dissatisfied with what I already have. ‘Hooray for the warm days of Indian summer’ is not something I ever expected to say…

Cheers! Lauren

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Family time… School year shift…

Well, we’re back at it… While my kids officially started their school on August 24th, last week finally felt like the real deal. We have now celebrated Labor Day, taken down the summer décor and replaced them with autumn’s mums, and homework is coming on in full force.

This year’s start date was an early one for us. I am often heard saying that I want the school year to start after Labor Day and end before Memorial Day. Doesn’t that sound nice and tidy? And a whole three months off from having to answer to the man?? It’s not for everyone, but that’s my dream summer…

That said, here we are already almost a month into the school year, and if I am being honest, the early start has been a better way to do it than I expected.

While the rest of the world is still functioning on summer time until September, having the past few weeks as our warming up period has been greatly beneficial to us. This has meant that we could get used to just the school part of our schedules for a good week or so before after-school activities started up. In fact the first two weeks were so slow that I had to remind myself that the easy pace wasn’t our norm. But it was a perfect amount of emptiness in the schedule to leave time for getting things right and to instill our good habits before the school year is in full swing.

We all have them, the odds and ends habits that we lose over the summer, but whose existence makes our school year run smoothly and healthfully. Here are ours…

Bedtime… Both the freedom to sleep in and the long daylight hours contribute to our late summer bedtimes. We start out with something reasonable at the beginning of the summer, but slowly the attitude of “eh, does it reeeeeally matter?” kicks in and the next thing we know, small people are falling asleep wherever they drop.

School nights, however, require a proper bedtime. For our younger kids that falls around 9/9:30 and for the older ones 10:00, signifying that the school year is a time for order and sensibility and also allowing enough sleep for their earlier rise times and long days.

Lunches… Getting back into making lunches for school also requires a little bit of reminding as to what a healthy lunch looks like and what foods people like to pack. Part of the process is my job, providing the healthy, easy options, and part of the process is their job, choosing the healthiest combination. My thirteen year old often needs reminding that corn chips, a slice of bread, some dry cereal, and a treat a balanced lunch does not make! What was great about this year was that, without our full load of after school activities, we had plenty of time to shop for the healthy options and then to monitor what the kids were packing.

Morning schedule… Gone are the long lazy mornings of summer, but this year we had a few weeks where the only things we needed to remember were our backpacks and our lunches. It wasn’t until week three when people started needed to add in their extracurricular supplies, like band instruments, sports bags, and the extra snacks needed to make it through an evening worth of activities. This helped to make the morning rush less shocking at first.

Agendas… The less rushed mornings and afternoon also allowed us to instill the habit of checking the kids’ agendas before and after school from the start. Checking in before and after school has kept Noah and I more in tune to what the kids have going on, to know whether or not the evening could be stressful or run late, and to help the younger ones make good decisions about what they accomplish when.

 

So all said and done, I will be the first to say that starting school in mid-August was a most pleasant surprise. Lots of positives came out of the experience. That said, this will only continue to be a nice approach assuming that the rest of the world doesn’t change their minds, too, and make August the new September, of course, but I will just have to keep my fingers crossed…

Cheers! Lauren

Family Time… Family Meetings…

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I was first introduced to the idea of weekly family meetings when I read Bruce Feiler’s book The Secrets of Happy Families. I highly recommend this book for all kinds of insight and useful suggestions for raising and running a family unit; the chapter on the family meeting, however, has stuck with us the most firmly of all the concepts. It has become an invaluable part of our week, integral in keeping the machine running smoothly and efficiently.

Originally it took some trial and error to figure things out. It cannot be denied that many of our crew were skeptical and dragging their feet and finding the ideal timing and location eluded us for quite a while. Still we started, with meetings planned for Sunday mornings, with hot breakfast added in to entice the skeptics. We soon realized, however, that mornings are challenging. The times that people were starting their days was widely varied (we do have teenagers after all…), and while some people were sleeping late into the morning, others were left feeling antsy to get on with things. So we tried moving the time around each week, pre-scheduling it the week before when the calendar showed availability. And we started adding in fieldtrips, like “family meeting on a hike” or “family meeting on a picnic” thinking this would make it fun and exciting. But there is really nothing like a teenager, already stressed about having enough time in the day to get her work done, to make a family meeting fieldtrip anything but fun and exciting. Needless to say, we hadn’t yet figured out our approach.

After a while… longer than it should have been, really… it became clear that Sunday evenings were a time that we naturally gathered together. Rarely did activities get scheduled for a Sunday night. Most of the weekend’s work was all done by then. And it was an ideal time to look ahead to the next week’s tasks. Two years later we are still managing to make Sunday evenings work.

The structure of the first part of the meeting is pretty similar to that described in The Secrets of Happy Families. We run through two questions: “What went well?” and “What wasn’t well?” regarding the previous week. It is tempting to look at the questions in relation to one’s self, but the real goal is how did things go for the family system as a whole. Sometimes it is that one person’s actions do affect the family, like a child picking fights or Mum not getting enough sleep and losing her patience. Other times it is the whole family needing to make a change, like when we are trying to start off a new school year or trying out a different organizational pattern around the house. Regardless, the two questions allow each person in the family voice their feelings about how things are working, good or bad.

After noting the answers in our family meeting journal, we ask the final question: “What are we going to work on this week?” This is the point where the meeting becomes more than just a place to vent, but allows us to take action to improve our daily lives together. For example, if a “wasn’t well” is that people aren’t putting their shoes away and they are piling up by the door, preventing easy movement in and out of the house, then the family brainstorms possible solutions for improvement: changing the location of the shoe storage, creating a set time that all shoes are put away, reminding each other to put away shoes with a special code word… you get the picture… Then together we’d settle on the first solution to try out that week; sometimes the solution clicks and other times we are back to the drawing board the next week.

The next part of the meeting is more individual. Each person makes an individual goal for the week with the understanding that they can have the family’s help in making it happen. They are often related to health and life balance, for example, like getting to bed on time for enough sleep each night, or taking two bike rides over the course of the week, or getting a new personal best in the next swim meet. What I like best about this activity is that it allows me to better understand where my kids stand that week. How they are feeling about themselves, what might be bothering them, and what is important in their lives at that moment. One more little clue is always helpful. J

The final part of the meeting is running through the week’s schedule, Monday to Monday. This has made a huge difference in showing discrepancies in the calendar versus peoples’ thinking, as well as helps us see and workout the carpooling difficulties before they are upon us. It also allows us to discuss how we want to spend the periods of open time, scheduling in both fun activities and the work that is home maintenance. Needless to say, this part of the meeting is an absolute must.

At this point the meeting is almost over, and many of the crew are testily shifting in their seats or even pacing the room, but we take a few minutes for asking the following: anything else we didn’t cover that people want to bring up?, any technology issues (need for a new charging cable, an app wanted/needed, lost headphones…) people want help resolving?, how do grades and school work look?… and that’s a wrap.

If you were to ask the individual members of our family unit for their thoughts on the weekly meetings, I feel confident that you would get a mixed bag of responses. Even still after two and a half years, the start of each meeting can bring attitudes that range from excited to apathetic to irritated. Just the same, however, I notice that as the meeting progresses people’s emotions shift. By the end our family unit is focused and prepared to take on the week. I love how the meeting solidifies one of our family’s strongest commandments; that we are here to support each other. We work together as a unit, so we can succeed as individuals.

Cheers! Lauren

Meditation… Hanging Laundry…

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Ah, meditation…in my circles, meditation seems to be a common topic of conversation. I find it on the blogs I read, in the fitness classes I attend, in the conversations I have with other moms like me… And it seems like a pretty good deal. You get to sit quietly. By yourself. And you don’t have to do or think anything. As someone who often feels overwhelmed by too many people and things, closing in bit by bit, that free vacation from it all sounds pretty, gosh-darn good.

But the reality is that for me meditation is a struggle. I go through phases where I am officially practicing it regularly. And I really do see results. It makes me happy, contented, and calm… Then *poof* one day I skip doing it and then the next and then the next. Until just the thought of it hangs over me, like a nagging mom…

“Go on… do it… you’ll feel better once you do… you’re always happy once you have… it’s good for you.”

Ugh. Nothing like a mom to speak the truth you don’t want to hear. J

Currently I am in the “nagging mom” phase of my meditation practice. Well, I was until I had a little epiphany while doing the chore of hanging the laundry on the clothesline yesterday afternoon. I find that chores fit into two categories: chores we deeply dislike and chores we don’t mind at all. Hanging the laundry is one of those chores that I don’t mind at all. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I really like hanging the laundry. It’s a highlight in my day! I have recognized this in myself for a while, but this afternoon, I happened to ask myself why. My answer surprised me a little.

Here is what I like about hanging the laundry. Hanging the laundry is an outside activity. It involves full-body movement. On top of that it is repetitive and methodical, while also requiring a certain sense of care and attention so that the clothes come away neat and wearable. And all of this is generally done in solitude. It was in the middle of this process that I realized why it makes me so very happy… all this time I have been doing a laundry meditation!

Now that I am thinking about it, not all meditations need to be the traditional type, sitting in a chair or on a cushion, in silence or with gentle music playing. And in fact, it still counts, even if it’s not that traditional type. It can happen when I’m hanging laundry or washing dishes or wiping down the bathroom. A quiet contemplative state where I am playing great attention to the moment its self is its own kind of meditation. To that end, with flexibility and an open mind, I can more easily fit meditation into my daily life.

Lucky me… Suddenly, with no struggle at all, I am left feeling refreshed and good that I am taking care of myself… and look at that the laundry got done!

Cheers! Lauren

Managing Summer…

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Ah, summer vacation… By the time we get to May each year, summer vacation can’t come soon enough for us. Right about that time, I start to daydream about open-ended days where we don’t have to “answer to the man”; where we wake with the sun and not our alarm clocks, and the rest of our day is the perfect mix of relaxation and exciting family adventures. Sound picturesque? Well, I do have a top-notch imagination…

So, needless to say, that is not exactly what happens… While I do have the luxury of being at home with the kids and my sole job is managing our lives and the household, I do not seem to be able to perfectly recreate that unblemished world of my imagination day in and day out for three months. That said, I do try and here are a few things that bring me closer to my unattainable goal:

  1. Summer Planning Work Session… This is something that we did at the beginning of the summer on a whim, and I feel like it helped us start off in the right direction. First we ordered take out for dinner to make it an “event”. Then we broke out our Wellness Wheels** to help us gauge our satisfaction with our own lives, and from there we talked about our personal goals for the summer. We also talked about how we could help each other meet these goals. Finally we took the opportunity that evening to brainstorm ideas for our summer family bucket list. By the end of the evening it felt like we were ready to dive in to summer vacation!
  2. Family Bucket List… I’ve talked about our family bucket list on an earlier post, and it continues to be a driving force behind our accomplishments as a family. During summer break, I rely heavily on the family bucket list to guide me in scheduling in fun and adventures. Some of the bucket list items are easy and relaxing, like our quest to watch all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies or what we call “porch-sicles” where we just enjoy popsicles on the front porch together after dinner. Others are adventures designed to force us out of our home-body comfort zones and to create stories to tell when we head back to school in the fall. These adventures include various camping trips, paddle boarding on the bay during vacation, or helping with my husband’s adventure race. Checking off various types of activities throughout the summer means that when we reach the end of vacation it will feel balanced and well-spent.
  3. Organized Sports, Activities, and Jobs… Despite the fact that not “answering to the man” is what I look forward to the most about summer, I have found that having something organized and with outside expectation is important in giving my kids a sense of structure over the summer months. The activity is generally something that also can be missed for travel or an adventure just too exciting to skip, but otherwise we make a full-hearted effort to go. With four kids, it can at times feel like a bit too much, but most weeks it is effective to have things scheduled. This summer the boys each have a sport going, swim team, soccer conditioning, and ultimate frisbee, and Molly has a few part-time jobs that give her some structure, too.
  4. Personal Bucket List… In addition to our family bucket list, I have started my own weekly personal bucket list. It shows the things that I would like to accomplish each week that are my own, separate from the family. On it you find things like:
  • run/walk (3)
  • bike
  • pilates (2)
  • garden (3)
  • clean baths
  • vacuum
  • sewing project
  • home improvement project
  • hike

It is the same list every week, and while not nearly as fun as our family bucket list, it prevents me from ending the week feeling like I didn’t take care of myself.

  1. Morning List/Check-in… While I like the kids to take advantage of summer mornings to catch up on rest and relaxation, too much of that good thing does not make for a good summer. To prevent day after day of sloth-like behavior, we have a list of morning activities posted to the refrigerator. It is a list of pretty obvious morning activities… breakfast, teeth brushing, instrument practicing, for example… but on summer break it’s nice to not have to think too hard… and the kids know not to ask to do something extra, like, say, play Xbox or head off to a friends house, if the list isn’t fulfilled, thus eliminating some stress for me, too!
  2. Family Meeting… We keep up with our family meetings most Sundays in the summer, too. They allow us to stay connected and well as to look at the week ahead and have some control over how much we have scheduled and how much time we have for vegging. This weekly fine-tuning is helpful in finding the ever-elusive balance.
  3. Flexibility and Forgiveness… And finally… and this is probably more of a reminder for me than anybody else… I try to remember that while life is what we make it, it is also often out of our control. It is important that I listen (both literally and figuratively) to my family and myself. A big adventure may not be just what we need that day. Or vegging around the house for the day might encourage edginess and bickering instead of rejuvenation. That said, if I get it wrong… well, that’s where the forgiveness comes in!

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So that’s what our summer looks like around here. How about you? Do you have any special approaches to get the most out of your summer? How do you make sure you and yours will be ready to head into the school year satisfied, but rested and raring to go?!

Cheers! Lauren

**Wellness Wheels are something I was introduced to in college while working for JMU’s Center for Community Service-Learning. Briefly, it is a tool for gauging satisfaction in various parts of one’s life. A circle is divided with six points: Social, Physical, Intellectual, Spiritual, Emotional, Occupational, with a spoke coming from the center to each of points. The spoke is then used like a sliding scale of how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with each category. When you connect the dots on your sliding scale you have a visual of how balanced your life is… a balanced life produces a wheel that could roll. 🙂

Our dinner story… spring beginnings…

Happy Sunday all! Did you notice that spring begins this week? Our weather here in Virginia has been very spring-like… you know, the early spring kind… snow, sun, rain, freezing rain, sun, repeat… We did get that snow I had talked about last week, enough for two snow days and a delay for the kids. And that, combined with my car being held hostage at the mechanics for five days and one of the kiddos going ahead and breaking their arm, did wreak some havoc on my menu plan as predicted. I finally did make my monthly trip Costco by the end of this week, so we’re going to call that a win!

Sunday: Chicken and Root Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner with Green Salad… Today was going to be our postponed St Patrick’s Day dinner, but a big benefit to snow days is that things get canceled and we get to spend more time snuggle up together at home as a family, enjoying our corned beef on actual St. Patrick’s Day! So today we will enjoy that sheet pan dinner I mentioned in my last dinner story. It is wet and chilly this weekend, so I think that will do nicely before we start shifting to lighter, springier fare.

Monday: Chicken Fried Rice… After look ahead in the calendar, it is clear that this week is going to require dinners that come together quickly and easily. Soccer’s spring season officially starts this week and that, combined with continuing school play rehearsals, the wrapping up of robotics season, and my youngest’s swimming habit, life really takes off starting at 4:00 in the evening.On Monday I plan to use the leftover chicken bits with some frozen peas, scrambled egg, and rice to make a quick fried rice. I’ll sauté some garlic and some soy sauce before through in the rest of the ingredients. Nice and hot in our big white latte bowls, it should be it perfect comfort food as people move to and fro throughout the evening.

Tuesday: Saucy Tuna Puttanesca over Rice with Sautéed Baby Kale… My easiest-to-make meals are rarely actual recipes, and Tuesday’s dinner is no exception. My Tuna Puttanesca starts like most of my recipes with sautéed onions and garlic. Then I’ll add two boxes of diced tomatoes and a tube of tomato paste. A whole tube may sounds like a lot, but I love tomato paste! The sweet/sour umami flavor really speaks to me. Giving that a stir, I start adding fun, zingy flavors: a glug or two of Worcestershire, capers, halved kalamata olives, some lemon juice, and plenty of red pepper flakes. Finally, six or so cans of drained tuna go in, breaking them into large chunks with a wooden spoon. I’ll serve all that over rice with a side of sautéed garlicy baby kale. It will be nice to have the bitterness of the baby kale there to play off of the tangy puttanesca.

Wednesday: Springtime Pot-a-Feu… I’m starting to throw off the mantle of winter with warming meals that have a lighter, fresher feel. Wednesday’s meal of Springtime Pot-A-Feu is perfect for that. The recipe’s beef should make it nice and hearty, but lighter with its brothiness and spring-time veggies.

Thursday: Cod Hash of  Yellow Corn and Potatoes with Green Salad… Last week’s trip to Costco meant that I was able to stock up on frozen fish. I’ll use a bag of it in my Cod Hash with Yellow Corn and Potatoes. I often struggle to remember to defrost meats and fish the number of days ahead that is usually needed, but this dinner is great because the fish can cook up easily whether I remember to or not! I find that the most efficient way of doing hash is if you can get the potatoes baking earlier in the day or even the night before. In a large pan, lay the fillets of fish, cooking them until they are opaque. Remove them from the pan, paying no mind to whether they stay in one piece or not. Then, while you’ve got some onions sauteing in plenty of olive oil, you can chop up the cooled baked potatoes. When the onions are soft and maybe even caramelly, you can add in some garlic and other veggie that you might want, like bell peppers, shredded carrots, and yellow corn. Next to go in are the chopped up potatoes. Let the potatoes get browned and crispy before flipping them with your biggest spatula. Lastly, add the fish, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces, as you stir it in. Finish with salt and pepper. I will serve it with a fresh Green Salad and the ever important bottle of Frank’s Red Hot.

Friday: Pizza Friday… Friday evening is book club night for me, so we’ll probably do our usual pizza takeout on the earlier side before the ladies come over. I’ll be serving desserts and cocktails at book club, so currently I am leaning toward a citrus almond cake, sorbet for my vegan friends, as well as port and tea. I started this book club a about a year ago and it is a major highlight for me, so I’m sure you will be hearing more about it on this blog sometime soon.

Saturday: Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce over Rice…This weekend holds yet another soccer tournament, as well as a few school musical-related commitments, so I will be getting out the ol’ slow cooker. I try very hard to keep my one-trick-pony appliances to a minimum, but the slow cooker is a true gem. It has gotten us through many a soccer season, providing delicious, healthy home cooked meals at the end of a long day. One of my favorite dishes to make in the slow cooker are curries because of the magic that happens to their flavors when they slow cook all day long. I’m planning to try this recipe for Slow Cooker Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce that is new to me, but basil + curry + coconut just has to be a winner.

Sunday: Black Bean Soup and Cornbread… The menu was looking a little meat-heavy this week, so I threw in a vegan meal to wrap things up on Sunday. Moosewood’s Black Bean and Chipotle Soup is an all-time favorite of ours and is good for this time of year because while the black beans keep it hearty, the zesty orange juice it calls for really lightens the final flavor. We never really eat it without cornbread, but just a green salad would lighten the whole menu even more, if you were so inclined.

This week’s menu looks like a good way to ease into Spring. There’s still a little bit of snow dotting the corners of the yard, but the daffodils are springing up all over, too, so the combo of lighter soups and spring greens seems just right. I kind of like the two-steps-forward, one-step-back approach to the Spring season, with hints of summery weather here and there, but still the chilly mornings and good dose of rainy days…

Cheers! Lauren

 

Family Time… Bucket List…

FullSizeRenderLast summer when visiting with a best friend from college, my dear friend Becky mentioned her family’s bucket list. Now Becky’s oldest and my oldest are about a decade apart, so while hers are still in the preschool years, mine are in the teenage phase of life, and our daily activities are a world apart. But when she mentioned the bucket list, I got excited. Here is a tool that can both keep her little ones entertained and engaged, as well as keep my older crew connected to the family for just a little bit longer. It’s genius!

This bucket list is set up more like a bingo card, a 8×10 block grid, with most of the spaces filled with various events, activities, and challenges. We, like Becky’s family, have chosen to cover a season’s worth of time with each list, so thus far we have made a Fall (September-November), a Winter (December-February), and a Spring (March-May) list. At the end of one season and the beginning of the next we brainstorm ideas for the coming season’s list and the ideas follow quickly and easily.

Some of the spaces have holidays in them. There are well-known ones like Christmas and Valentines Day, and smaller, but still known ones like Ground Hog Day and MLK Day. We also like to add some practically unknown, but fun ones like National Popcorn Day and National Hot Cocoa Day. We find some way to recognize the holiday when it comes, eating a big bowl of popcorn together on National Popcorn Day or just talking about did the ground hog saw his shadow and whether or not we think he will be right this year.

In other spaces there are scheduled, but fun activities like the going to see Charley sing in the school chorus concert or supporting Riley at a soccer game. The best thing about these spaces is that they encourage us to support each other’s activities. Now that most of my kids can stay home alone, it is just as easy to leave the unenthusiastic ones behind, and mum and dad go off to watch the [insert activity here]. But with the bucket list encouraging us, sometimes we all head off to the soccer game (or swim meet or robotics competition or school play) together, and the kid in the activity feels the love and support of the whole family.

Finally we like to include general family fun in the bucket lists. These take the form of outings, like “go see show” or  “ice skating”. There might be adventures, such as “family bike ride” or “family adventure race”. And then there are the challenges and projects, for example “Harry Potter movie marathon”, “chapter book by the fire”, and “prep vegetable garden”. Some items are traditions that will be added to the list year after year and others are unique, one-time experiences.

As we accomplish the various items on the list, we use a marker to high light each activity. Being a “list-maker type”, I find this alone satisfying, but the best part is actually the feeling of balance that the bucket list brings. Being a family of six, we are never lacking for things to do, be it a scheduled activity, a home improvement project, or some family fun, but the difficulty comes in when trying to prioritize and get the most out of life. Pre bucket list, a weekend would wrap and it would feel as thought we only worked and didn’t play, or we only vegged and didn’t do enough work. Now, as long as we are highlighting the items on our list, then we are content knowing that we are working and playing at what is important to us.

Cheers! Lauren