Four Things That Make It Feel Like Summer

Jun 28, 2019

I may claim that April is my favorite month of the year, but June runs a very close second behind it.

I adore summer, and June tends to have just the right summer vibe. July is too hot and gets filled up with vacations and reunions, and August is slowly being overtaken by back-to-school activities. But June! June feels just right.

And that is why we didn't waste a moment before launching ourselves headfirst into that summer life with these four things:

Summer Goals

We have been setting summer goals for the last six years. We usually sit down and map out everyone's the week before school gets out so that we can immediately begin working on them. We set goals that are fun, educational, and practical (as explained in these previous posts).

People often ask me how I get my kids to do their goals. The simplest answer is that most of them are a lot like me and actually love the thrill of working on something and checking it off, so it actually isn't very difficult. But also, our summer goals provide the structure and routine that we so desperately need in order to stay happy. Our goals have become as much a part of summer as sunshine or the pool. It probably sounds crazy, but working on goals makes it feel like summer.

Our morning routine almost always looks like this: My kids wake up, eat breakfast, and get dressed. They take turns practicing the piano. When they're not practicing, they are cleaning up their rooms and working on an extra job (assigned by me). As the final part of their morning checklist, they work on one of their goals. It's just built into the schedule, and so they make little bits of progress every day.

I have talked extensively about our summer goals in the past. In fact, I've think I have written about them every summer since 2014. I don't feel the need to do that this year because so many of the boys' goals are borrowed from past years, but I will mention a few of the ones that are new this time:

--Learn to sing the four basic parts in a hymn (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)
--Use the weed wacker (this one already failed--it was too heavy for Aaron to lift, much less control!)
--Make waffles
--Go grocery shopping (find items on a list, pay at the cash register)
--Clean refrigerator
--Algebra workbook
--Make banana bread
--Learn conducting patterns (3/4, 4/4, etc.)
--Take care of a garden plot
--Improve drop kick
--Make scrambled eggs
--Write three essays
--Family taste test

If the boys are demonstrating consistent progress on their goals, we get to go on a family outing at the end of each month. We already cashed in June's prize (seeing Matilda at Hale Center Theater). We will also go to a water park and rollerskating.

Summer Playlist

Two years ago, I decided we needed a soundtrack for our summer. We all pitched in with recommendations and suggestions and then we compiled all of the songs into a playlist, which we then listened to ad nauseam for the entire summer.

We loved it so much that we made a new playlist last year. And then this year, I was so excited about it that I began collecting ideas for our 2019 playlist well before it was time.

The cool thing about these playlists is they get played so much that they literally become the background music of our summers. This means that if we hear them again months later, they instantly transport us back to redwood forests or lazy summer mornings or hikes or whatever else we were doing when we were listening to them.

I love what we came up with this year:

1. "What Time Is It" from High School Musical 2
2. "First Day of Summer" by Jesse Ruben
3. "Pinch Me" by Barenaked Ladies
4. "Jump, Jive, n' Wail by Vocal Point
5. "You are the Sunshine of My Life" by Stevie Wonder
6. "Sunburn" by Owl City
7. "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers
8. "Zero" by Imagine Dragons
9. "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin
10. "Waka, Waka (This Time For Africa)" by Shakira
11. "Good Day Sunshine" by the Beatles
12. "Better Place" by Rachel Platten
13. "Summer Wind" by Michael Bublé
14. "Butterflies" by Kacey Musgraves
15. "A Head Full of Dreams" by Coldplay
16. "The Camp Song" by Peter Katz

We had it blasting all over the whole house by the first weekend of summer.

Summer Reading Program

It wouldn't be summer without summer reading, am I right? Our library summer reading program doesn't really encourage or incentivize reading (I know, so crazy), so three years ago, I decided to just create my own at home. We love it so much that even if the library decided to bring back a more traditional reading program, we wouldn't abandon ours.

This is how it works: For every two hours of reading (one hour for Clark), they earn a prize, and after twenty hours (ten hours for Clark), they earn a book. Besides that, they can earn extra prizes by reading outside their comfort zone (new genres, longer books, more sophisticated reads, etc.). (You can find out more details here.) This year, I chose to use Janssen's new summer reading chart to track their hours, and I highly recommend it. I love that it's customizable so that I was able to change some of the extra-credit items to something that worked better for our family.

Friday is usually the day that the boys cash in their prizes, and so far, Maxwell and Aaron have been cleaning house with 20+ hours most weeks. This is also the first year that Clark is actually doing his own reading for his prizes, so that is pretty exciting. The most popular prizes this year have been song downloads, extra screen time, and popsicles from the pool.

Also, in case you were wondering, we are doing another family book club this year. The book we're all reading is Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman. We'll discuss it in a few weeks after we all finish it.

The Pool

I am a creature of habit, and so we go to our little neighborhood pool almost every day. We get all of our work done in the morning, then we pack a lunch and head to the pool. We stay for an hour or two and then head home for naps and quiet time. There isn't a single thing I would change about this schedule. It is perfect for us.

Our neighborhood pool is small and not fancy, but we love it so much. We almost always have friends there (without any planning ahead on our part). There is a diving board for Bradley to do back flips and cartwheels off of. There are wide, shallow steps for Ian to hang out on (he hasn't been overly brave about going in the water yet). It is the perfect distance from our house, giving us a chance to get nice and hot on the walk there and dried off on the walk home. It has a casual, retro feel--like something straight out of the 1960's.

I'm making it sound really idyllic, but for me, it is. My kids get a little sick of it partway through the summer, but we keep going because we're just so lucky to have it.

I don't know what things my kids will remember about their summers when they're all grown up, but I have a feeling we're creating memories right now. These are the very things I will look back on fondly one day, but for now, I'm just enjoying it being my reality. And I think they are, too.

Tell me about the things that make summer feel like summer for YOU!


  1. It does sound like you are making great memories!

    I laughed at the weed wacker. My dad let my brother use it at 12. When I was 12, he said as a girl I wasn't strong enough (I didn't even get to try!). When I was 14, he said I could try. By then I was a smartie-pants teenager and said that I was still a girl and TOO WEAK. And I've never picked one up since. I make my sons do it. I'm still a girl :-)

    Our library does a good summer reading program, and they've extended it to adults. I turn in my reading sheet tomorrow.

    1. Ha! Love it! I have to admit, with five brothers and now five sons, I've mowed very little in my lifetime. :-)

      I'm glad you have a good library reading program! For our library's program, I could literally check off a box if I TALKED to Ian. I'm serious.


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