Summer lasts for exactly 95 calendar days this year. The Farmer’s Almanac cites its onset as June 21, 2014 and lists it’s farewell on September 23, 2014.
After 3 too-short months of mosquito bites and baseball games, the beach towels will be packed away … the flip flops will be thrown away … and the lazy, hazy days of summer become a sweaty memory.
And, do you want to know what else is a sobering reality of summer? You only are given 18 summers of 95 days each to share with your children.
18 chances to make sunshine memories and popsicle promises.
18 opportunities to read the books of childhood to your little ones … to splash in the sprinkler … and to make s’mores after a dinner of hot dogs and corn on the cob.
18 occasions to spit out watermelon seeds in the front yard … to play kick-ball all afternoon … and to catch fireflies in the waning daylight.
18 shots at teaching your kids to ride their bikes with no hands … to play hopscotch on the front sidewalk … and to make homemade ice cream before bedtime.
95 sunshine filled days fly by.
18 summers evaporate into adulthood.
Rather than live with a heart-filled with regret when September 23 rolls around, perhaps this is the summer you will endeavor to wring the pure sunshine out of every day. Here are just a few of my favorite summertime activities that will last long after autumn has come knocking at your door and well beyond the brevity of 18 summers.
1. Make a measuring stick at least 6 feet tall and about 6 inches wide. Mark off the inches and the feet on it so it resembles a huge ruler. Hang this piece of wood on a wall in your home and measure your children every year on June 21 and on September 23. See how much they have grown during the 95 days of summer!
In addition to June 21 and September 23, choose other days of the calendar year to measure each child’s height. Perhaps measure each one on Christmas day as well as on their birthdays. Put each child’s name and the date next to the marks on your family’s unique measuring stick!
2. Go to the library at least once a month during the 95 days of summer and choose books to read together as a family. Make it a celebration to read the books out loud to your children that were read to you when you were a child. It has been my experience that my daughters loved hearing “Tom Sawyer”, “Mr. Mulligan and His Steam Shovel”, and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” as much as my sons did! And, my three sons were riveted, as much as the girls were, by the adventures of “Caddie Woodlawn”, “The Little House in the Big Woods” series and “Pippi Longstocking”!
Set aside time every day to read out loud to your children whether they are 4 years old or 14 years old. Pop some popcorn, hand out a bowl of fresh strawberries and put on classical music while you read.
3. Have a contest at least once a week! Have you ever had a watermelon seed spitting contest?
- Or a sidewalk chalk art contest?
- Or a whistling on a piece of grass contest?
- Or a cannon-ball contest at the neighborhood swimming pool?
- Or a decorate your bike contest?
- Or who can kick the ball the farthest contest?
- Or who can hit the baseball the farthest contest?
- Or a squirt-gun contest in the back yard?
- Or who can say the alphabet backwards contest?
- Or a paper airplane building contest?
- Or who can memorize the state capitols contest?
The possibilities are endless! Do it!
4. Choose a Bible verse to memorize each week for the entire family. Announce the verse of the week every Saturday morning and write it on a white board in your kitchen. Put the weekly verse on the bathroom mirror and on every bedroom door. Then, on every Friday afternoon, have each child write out the Bible verse and decorate it with glitter, pieces of fabric and stickers. Insert each child’s page into their own 3-ring binder so at the end of the summer, they will have a beautiful, creative record of the Bible verses of the summer of 2014 … and then 2015 … and then 2016.
5. Teach your children to embrace the fun and purpose found only in giving to someone else. Perhaps you could have a yard sale and give the profits to a missionary. Volunteer, as a family, to paint a Sunday School room at church. Go to a widow’s house and weed her flower gardens or wash windows for her. Volunteer, as a family, to baby-sit for a young couple so they can have a date night. Make cards and take them to the residents of a local nursing home.
The very best memories you will ever give your children will not be made at Disneyworld, at an exotic beach or even at the neighborhood playground. The very best gift you can give to your children is found in the meaning of serving others and giving to others.
6. Make a list of interesting and free places to visit within 2 hours of your home. Pack a lunch every Saturday or Sunday and visit these unique places that are within driving distance of where you are raising your family. Make sure that you listen to great music while you drive.
- Begin with worship music for the first 20 minutes or so.
- Then listen to Broadway Show tunes or Disney songs.
- Introduce culture to your family vehicle with a classical piece or two.
- Every family needs a thorough knowledge of and appreciation for Patriotic tunes! Sing along to “You’re a Grand Old Flag!”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, and “God Bless America!”
- How about playing some popular music from your teen-age years?
- And as always … make sure to end your day with worship.
Have the youngest members of the family draw a picture of what they saw that day and encourage the school-age children to write a short report of the landmark that you visited.
7. Buy ice cream from the ice cream truck at least once during the summer!
8. Show a movie for all of the neighborhood kids on the side of your house or garage! Rent or borrow a projector and show “It’s a Bug’s Life”, “Pollyanna” or “Cars” at twilight on a Friday night. Invite ll of the families on your street and have them bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on and snacks to pass around.
95 days are gone in a flash.
18 summers disappear like vapor.
The ache that fills my heart every year at one minute past September 23 has little to do with the frost on the morning grass or the vibrant colors of the leaves. The ache is birthed in the knowledge that 18 summers have come and gone. I’ll never have the opportunity again to make blueberry popsicles … lay in the grass and name the clouds with a giggling girl … or catch a salamander with a freckle-faced boy.
95 days. 18 summers. That’s all you get.
My friend, Michelle Cox, has written a book entitled “Just 18 Summers”. Her book inspired me to write this blog post. If you’d like to order a copy of her book or visit her website click here.