Archive for the ‘Fun Summer Activities’ Category

Camping: Great for Family Bonding

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

camping-great-for-family-bonding

If I had known how wonderful camping would be for family bonding, I would have gone camping with my family a lot sooner. Yes, I find it nearly impossible to sleep outdoors because of all the noises and light, a feeling of not being protected, and the constriction of a sleeping bag which is way too hot and tight for comfortable sleeping. During the day in the summer months, the outdoor temperature induces sweating and wilting, not the ideal conditions for a pleasant experience.

inside-the-tent

Notwithstanding the aforementioned drawbacks of camping, I still have to say that the beauty of nature, the delicious food cooked over a campfire, and the deep conversations without any electrical devices can be refreshing and invigorating. And it helps if there is a lake or river nearby to dip your feet into to cool off.

marshy-area-camping

Years ago we were given a family tent that was big enough to sleep our whole family, back when our kids were young. We used this family tent for church camps because we couldn’t afford a cabin. During those church camps when my children were toddlers and preschoolers, the sheer amount of work to take care of the children was enough to bring me to the brink of tears out of sheer exhaustion.

braid

Now that the kids are older and starting college, we took a weekend to re-connect as a family. I found a new 2-person tent at a yard sale for $5, so we even had separate quarters for us, the parents. My sons immediately started whittling sticks with their pocket knives. It had been years since they had learned to use their pocket knives at Cub Scouts, which my husband and I used to lead.

whittling-while-camping

We set up the tents and threw our backpacks into the tents and settled into our canvas chairs around a campfire. We had brought food to cook over a campfire for each meal, and of course, we brought S’mores. As we sat around the campfire in the evenings, we would talk and talk. It was wonderful! My kids are interesting and their thoughts run deep. They have opinions about everything, and they are hilarious. We laughed a lot while sitting and telling stories the second night around the campfire. My kids all have active imaginations, and their conversations reminded me of when I was young and all of life stretched out before me.

roasting-marshmallows-campfire

During the day we went exploring the area, finding beautiful other-worldly places. The marshy ground revealed long-necked birds and more exotic insects than are found in the city. A small lake reflected the blue sky and was surrounded by low mountains. It was a beautiful sunny day, both days that we were camping.

hiking-while-camping

It was nice to smell bacon and eggs in the morning, especially when cooked by someone other than me. My son Stephen made pancakes the second morning, and we were always ravenously hungry. Maybe the fact that we were outdoors caused us to expend more energy through exercise, causing us to need more food. And the food always tasted wonderful.

breakfast-at-camp

The conversations we had as a family enabled us to bond in a beautiful way before we sent two kids off to college. One of our sons left to Oregon for Bible college, while our second son is commuting from home, but both have definitely matured into godly men. Sitting and sharing our hearts over a campfire is definitely an experience I would not have traded for the world!

Boat Birthday Party

Monday, June 29th, 2015

boat-birthday

A boat birthday is perfect for the summer! What better excuse to spend some time on a nearby lake? Last weekend we celebrated my son’s birthday by giving him a boat birthday party. If you have friends who own a boat, it doesn’t have to cost you any money. If you don’t have friends who own a boat, you will need to save up to rent a motor boat. But it’s an experience that your family will never forget!

boat-party-invitation

How to Make a Boat Party Invitation

I made the boat invitations by using some origami paper and folding it into a boat. ThenĀ  I stabbed a wooden skewer in through the bottom of the boat, and I taped it in place. Then I printed out the information for the party, and I cut it out in a sail shape and stabbed the skewer through the sail. Finally, I added a tiny flag at the top, taping it in place.

lake-cupcakes

How to Make Lake Cupcakes

Bake some cupcakes and frost them with blue frosting. You will need to stir blue food coloring into white frosting. With a knife, make little waves on top of the blue frosting “water.” Super easy!

You will want to make cupcakes rather than cake if you are planning to eat it on the boat. Make sure to place the cupcakes into a container and put them on ice in a cooler so that they do not melt on a hot summer day in the boat.

boating

Enjoy a day of boating. Often the best gifts are experiences.

My daughter had never been on a boat, so it was super exciting for her. We borrowed a large innertube from a friend and attached it to the boat. The kids loved taking turns being pulled on the innertube by the boat!

boating-party

Okay, maybe the children weren’t the only ones enjoying the boat birthday party!

lake-12

Make Your Own Miniature Treehouse

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

miniature-treehouse

Making a miniature treehouse with your kids can be super fun, especially if you are reading Swiss Family Robinson as a read-aloud! Or it can be a fun open-ended toy for your children instead of an ordinary doll house. I’ve always been fascinated by treehouses, so this was a fun experience for my sister and I to make.

Supplies for Building a Miniature Tree House

You will want to gather some materials before you begin:

  • wooden base
  • brown stain or paint
  • real or fake branch
  • silk leaves
  • string
  • bits of wood
  • a drill
  • hot glue
  • wire cutter
  • scissors
  • pebbles
  • toilet paper tube
  • orange or red feather for fire
  • necklace chain
  • fake leather
  • lace

How to Make your Own Miniature Treehouse

miniature-treehouse-2Step 1: Start with the base. Get a wooden base at a craft supply store, or cut a base from a piece of wood. Stain the wood dark brown or paint it. Drill a hole in the back center, and insert the branch into the hole. Hot glue the branch in place, and hot glue the silk leaves into place.

Step 2: Decide how many levels you want in your treehouse. Stain or paint the wood after cutting it into the shape you want. I already had wood scraps, and I used what I already had. Hot glue the levels onto the tree. If you need a pole to keep the level up, you can hot glue a pole to the top and bottom, stabilizing the level.

Step 3: I made a bench swing on one level. I hot glued red fake leather to some wood and glued two pieces of wood together. We drilled four holes on the bottom of the bench swing, and I stuffed a chain necklace through the holes. You can use a wire cutter. Attach each chain to a branch of the tree.

miniature-treehouse-3Step 4: On the top level of the treehouse, I hot glued some walls on three sides. Then I made a hammock out of lace. I sewed two pieces of lace together and ironed down the edges to make it look more authentic. I sewed the string to the lace and hot glued it to the walls of the tree house.

Step 5: My sister made a rope ladder by drilling holes in the two sides of small pieces of wood and threading a string through them. We attached the rope ladder to the upper level of the treehouse.

Step 6: Hot glue small pieces of wood to the trunk of the tree, like steps leading up to the first level. Super easy!

Step 7: Make a picnic table by hot gluing pieces of wood together until you have a structure resembling a picnic table.

miniature-treehouse-4Step 8: Make a fireplace by opening a toilet paper roll with scissors. Put hot glue onto the open toilet paper roll and quickly dump lots of small pebbles on it. Lift up the toilet paper roll and see where you need to add pebbles. Hot glue any pebbles down.

Step 9: Get some twigs to use for logs and assemble them to look like a bonfire. Hot glue an orange or red feather to it for the flames.

You have now completed your miniature treehouse. Isn’t it cute?

Aquarium at Cannon Beach

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

aquarium-at-cannon-beachWe visited an aquarium at Cannon Beach called Seaside Aquarium. You can feed otters and see several octopuses, lots of anemones and other fish, and a petting zoo. It’s a small aquarium that has been open for over 70 years. It’s not really at Cannon Beach, but at a nearby town called Seaside. If you’re taking a vacation at Cannon Beach, it’s only about 15 minutes away. Two of my children loved feeling the sea stars and sea cucumbers with their fingers.

anemonesThe aquarium has one large room surrounded by glass aquariums. It has another room with the otters. In the main room you also have an area with a red octopus swimming around. What I’m saying is that if you expect a large elaborate aquarium, you will be disappointed, but if you expect something small, you will be delighted.

aquarium-at-cannon-beach-2The aquarium around the edges of the room is all salt water, with colorful eels, anemones, and shellfish. Rocks are covered with living creatures.

cannon-beach-aquariumMy son Stephen is my biologist, and he has always loved living creatures. He was glued like a magnet to the petting zoo area of the aquarium. He would watch how creatures responded to his touch.

aquariumHe also loved having a hermit crab tickle his fingers as it walked across his hand. He spent nearly an hour touching the beautiful and intriguing sea creatures. My daughter enjoyed touching the sea creatures as well.

hermit-crabMy other two sons preferred not to touch the sea creatures, but to look at them from a safe distance. They looked at the calm swaying of the tentacles of the sea anemones. They watched the fish swim around in the water.

cannon-beach-aquarium-2One tank had a lot of sea stars. The stars are sort of prickly to the touch, and their mouth is underneath. A sea urchin was also in the same aquarium, but it was so prickly that it felt like a pin cushion.

sea-starsHere is the fabulous octopus, the terrible monster of the deep. It reminds me of when we studied 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where the octopus attacked a submarine!

octopusHere are some squid eggs. The long white sacks are filled with eggs, and the parent squid dies shortly after laying the eggs.

squid-eggsWe had a great time at the aquarium at Cannon Beach. The next day my daughter asked if we could go back because she loved it so much!

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