Tag Archives: summer memories

Monday Musings: Back to our regularly scheduled programming

25 Aug
Nothing makes me more reflective of our blessings than being able to take in such beauty on a regular basis, especially in the summer.

Nothing makes me more reflective of our blessings than being able to take in such beauty on a regular basis, especially in the summer.

It’s a Monday and here’s a Monday Musings post. We must be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

School starts up again tomorrow.

Summer as we know it and love it, is all over.

The girls and even their dad, are all excited and a bit nervous to begin the new year and I am excited for them. A new school year is an exciting thing. My job has started to pick up as well, and that makes me excited also. As I dressed for my own first day back last Friday, I couldn’t help but have that first-day-of-school feeling and tinge of excitement.

The air has already begun to get a bit cooler at night and it’s getting darker just a bit earlier; all signs of the inevitable end to summer.

Although I tend to be pretty bummed out about the summertime ending, melancholy at times, this time of year also reminds me so much of how blessed we are and how thankful I am for all that we have.

Summer is relaxing and stress-free for the most part and allows us to truly enjoy our family time together.

Summer is relaxing and stress-free for the most part and allows us to truly enjoy our family time together.

Coincidentally, I’ve been chosen to participate in one of those social media challenges which is going around Facebook this week, the “Gratefulness Challenge.” Five days, five things a day that you’re grateful for. It’s allowed me to take some time to think of all the things I truly am grateful for in my life, and it’s made me a little less melancholy as we start the new school year, embarking the months in which I count down to summer, from now through next June.

Each summer as we enjoy our time together, I try to constantly remind the kids how lucky we are. We have flexible summertime work schedules, so we are able to spend a great deal of time together, almost making up for the stress of the school year months when our schedules are maxed out with our school year responsibilities. We have chosen to live in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful places in the country where we can enjoy beautiful scenery that people travel many miles to enjoy for a short time, any time we want. We are so incredibly lucky and I am grateful for the choices we’ve made all along the way, which have allowed us to have this time together.

When used correctly, "selfies" are a great opportunity to create memories with your friends and family. Never before have I gotten to be in so many photos with my kids.

When used correctly, “selfies” are a great opportunity to create memories with your friends and family. Never before have I gotten to be in so many photos with my kids. I treasure each and every “selfie” that I have with them.

In August, I always choose to celebrate my actual birthday with a dinner on the beach with the kids and my husband. It’s by far one of the most special parts of my summer each year and it means a lot to me. Because my birthday is in the middle of August, I am always reminded that summer is winding down and I am always grateful for that one last dinner on the beach, that one last opportunity to snap photos of my kids playing together, running through the sand, feet in the water, as the sun goes down over the ocean.  I love hearing the wind taking their laughter away from me, and hearing them come back to me, breathless as they laugh over whatever it is they’re doing; taking “selfies” together (I love the “selfie” trend for this reason) or climbing up on the empty lifeguard chairs, or just general fooling around. It’s a fun night for sure, but it’s my own personal reminder each year of just how lucky we are.

And so, as we begin our new school year and as I reflect upon our closing of another summer, another chapter in our family’s book, I am reminded of just how lucky I am, how lucky we are as a family and I know that I am very, very blessed.

(Just nine more months ’til next summer…..)

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Fun Friday: Welcome Back Summer Timeline, I missed you!

27 Jun
I couldn't do it alone this year.

I couldn’t do it alone this year.

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog over the years, you’re familiar with our Summer Timeline that I started a few years back. It was my version of a clothesline timeline I’d seen on a blog one day years ago that I’d decided to adapt for a project at our house that summer of 2012. It was a huge success. We easily filled our timeline with pictures and events from our summer and at the end of it all we had a great way to look back on all the fun things we’d done. Later on that fall we put the pictures and labels into a scrapbook to preserve the memories forever.

Last summer we did it again, extending our timeline around the room and being quite liberal with the photos we added, knowing that we’d be adding to the summer scrapbook from the year before. We loved the timeline of 2013 and left it up for a long time.

And then, we left it in a pile on the floor in the corner of my bedroom for the next ten months.

It’s still there.

I was out of 12×12 scrapbook page sleeves to do the newest pages. I had no double-sided tape to add the photos in. I’d get some. Soon. Next time I went to the craft store when I wasn’t spending a lot of money on something else that I needed right away.

In my free time.

We had an incredibly hectic school year this year, probably the most difficult yet, since all three started school. The time never quite made itself available to us, and the timeline and scrapbook were never a priority. It kept going on the “some day” list and before I knew it, it was summer again.

And so, the burning question: Do we do another summer timeline?

It didn’t really matter what the answer was, ultimately, because at the end of the school year I didn’t have a single spare second to put it up. It doesn’t take forever, but it takes a little bit of time, and we were out flat with commitments at the end of the year right up through the night of the last day of school when three kids had to be in three different places at the same time all by 5pm, with me as the sole driver. The timeline greeting my kids on the last day of school as they walked through the door just wasn’t going to happen.

Well, it was a nice idea while it lasted. Fun when we did it. Maybe some other time we’d do it again.

But, that first week of summer, I already missed it. We ate out one night after a full day of dance recital rehearsals (with lots of photo opps) grabbing dessert at a dairy farm where there were cows and chickens and gorgeous farm scenery. I was snapping away, taking loads of pictures.

We went strawberry picking for the first time ever since I was a kid. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. The berries were red and ripe, the leaves of the plants bright green and there wasn’t a cloud in the sunny blue sky. It was picturesque.

We went letterboxing for the first time of the season. The letterbox was in a location that had a historic memorial garden. We toured it, taking photos of World War II Quonset Huts and war memorial statues and plaques, an amazing letterbox for our first find of 2014.

Water slides, light houses, lunches out at local hot spots.

Pictures, pictures, pictures.

I missed our timeline.

Luckily as things usually go for us, we had a sick day one day shortly after the water slides and light house day. We had some down time, time when we were stuck at home.

I noticed the blank wall in our hallway, a nice, long stretch of space that would make a great summer timeline spot for 2014. It wasn’t a spot we’d used before, but it looked inviting.

And so, up it went on that afternoon, but this time, I had some help. Alex was going a bit stir crazy that day, not being the one who was not feeling well, and looking for something to do. I had her help me, and although giving up a sense of perfection is hard for me, giving up all creative control isn’t something I do well, I turned the whole project over to her. We put the paper up together and put the strip down the middle together because those are the two hardest things to do.

“Mommy,” she said. “How did you DO this all by yourself before?” she asked.

Good question.

“Can I decorate it a little bit?” she asked.

Sure, why not?

“Can I put our name on it? Can I put ‘by Alexandra’ on it?”

And so she went to town, occupied for a good half hour at least, adding a sky, some blue and purple tones to it, some happy faces, hearts and flowers.

She had a blast.

My hands were free, my worries about to do or not to do the timeline were gone, and it’s up on the wall.

Yesterday I bought refill sleeves for last year’s photos and I bought a pack in advance for this year’s.

It’ll all get done. It doesn’t really matter when, in the grand scheme of things.

I stand by the fact that anything we can accomplish in the memory preserving category is more than nothing, and that’s something.

We love our summers most of all, the time we spend together and the fun activities we do, and once again this year, we’ll have the summer time line from 2014 to look back on when we enter the rat race of the 2014-2015 school year.

And really, that’s all that matters.

 

 

 

 

What We’re Doing For Fun This Summer: Summer Timeline Update

23 Jul

As promised, here’s a quick update on our Summer Vacation 2012 Timeline. If you’re a new reader, you can check out how our timeline began by clicking on the link here.

It’s been just over one month since school ended and our timeline began, and so far, so good. I wasn’t sure what to expect; how often we’d add to it, what we’d be doing to put on it, if the kids would lose interest or not.

No worries, the timeline is full.

Visitors, parades, birthdays, staycation time…it was a busy month!

The kids have really enjoyed adding their posts to the timeline, and they take turns adding things on. If it’s a particular event that happened to one of them, they let that person write it and put it on. Otherwise, they take turns. We make sure to add the dates, of course. We did blue paper for June, yellow for July and probably will do pink for August.

I print the photos out nine at a time, since my photo printing program prints nine 2×3 photos per page.  I don’t waste paper that way and I’m not running around printing photos every other day. The kids love seeing what pictures I’ve added overnight, when they wake up in the morning. I try to be equal, making sure to put up approximately the same amount of photos of each kid, each time, or the best bet: photos containing the three of them.

I also learned pretty quickly that one row of photos just wasn’t enough. I’m a photographer with three kids. Two rows was definitely a must. Luckily our Doodle Roll is wide enough to accommodate two rows. Luckily it doesn’t accommodate three, because I could totally go there.

The beginning of July tends to be busier for us and more eventful than the end of the month, because that’s when Don takes his vacation time (and some again in the beginning of August) so we do a lot. There’s the Fourth of July holiday in there as well as Elizabeth’s birthday, so there were tons of things to add to the timeline, every day. Once he went back to work and we were out of the holiday time and back to a more routine schedule there was less to add, so it balances out so far.

The kids had questioned me as to what would happen if we ran out of space, and we did. My answer had been not to worry, that we could always add to it, so we did. We went around the corner and onto the next wall in the dining room. (I have no qualms about hanging “kid stuff” up anywhere in the house, so this was not an issue for me. I have many years ahead to have grownup stuff or no stuff, on my walls.)

The second half of our timeline, ready and waiting for our upcoming events in July and August.

Personally, as a scrapbooker and a person who makes photo books often, I love this project. If I get no further than taking this off the wall in September and rolling it up to put it away, at least we have this much: a record of all our summer memories from 2012, photos to go with them, and even samples of the kids’ handwriting and spelling from this summer to go along too.  If I decide to make a photo album or scrapbook, I can use these pictures and their posts. If I want to make a photo book, I’ve already sorted the “best of” pictures into a separate folder on my computer for printing, so making a photo book will be that much easier. But, I won’t have ANY guilt because I know that we have this much, which is better than nothing!

Summer is my favorite, favorite, favorite time of year. I love having my family around me, my husband gets some time off, and we do lots of fun things together. I am so incredibly glad to have this fun reminder of these days together. I know that one day we’ll look back and say, “Where did the time go?”

And then, I’ll pull out our timeline and we’ll know.

What we’re doing for fun this summer: Summer Memories Timeline

25 Jun

If you’ve been a reader of my blog since last fall, you may remember my post about our Summer Vacation banner. It was not something I’d started on purpose and it turned out to be so much more than I expected. The kids loved it.

I had not thought of doing anything like it this summer, but then a few weeks ago I was reading a blog and clicked from that blog to another blog, and saw something that caught my eye: a summer memories clothesline-timeline.

Only problem is: I can’t find that blog I’d landed on, anywhere. I didn’t think I was going to do it, so I didn’t save it. I’ve searched the internet like crazy but can’t find it.

Anyway, after seeing this, it stuck in my head and as I drove around these past couple of weeks, it kept popping into my head. (When I drive from story to story, place to place, I drive in silence–I get a lot of thinking done this way.)

I decided to try a summer timeline for my kids, I thought they’d love it, but I didn’t want to use a clothesline because I didn’t think I could put it up very well in our house nor could I store it well afterwards. (I save everything.)

Instead, I chose to use banner paper ($1.99 roll of Doodle Paper from Christmas Tree Shops) and decorative packing tape ($2 at CVS) along with some little square pieces of paper for them to write their events on the timeline ($1 at CVS).

They saw me buy the Doodle Roll last week before school ended and right away they knew something was up. Alex asked me every day why I bought the Doodle Roll. They wanted to know when they’d be let in on my Top Secret project.

Finally, the last day of school came. With my work schedule I only had one hour in which to create my timeline but I’d planned it out pretty well so I knew what I wanted to do.

Here’s how it looked, I know you’re dying to see it, right?

Our timeline: a blank slate ready to be filled up with a record of our summer memories.

The only disappointment was that I wanted to print out a photo to put on the timeline of them from that morning on the last day, but my printer was broken, not working AT ALL so I couldn’t. However, the “blank slate” aspect of their timeline seemed very appealing to them; the fact that they had this entire space to fill up with things we were doing, places we were going, people we were seeing.

When they walked in on that last day of school, they gasped and ran up the stairs–it’s right at the top of the stairs– to see what the new project was. (We’re a very project-based family!) They were immediately so excited, and I was so thrilled.

Their biggest concern: what if the timeline isn’t big enough? Then what? My solution: we can easily add a section to it and remove the last square I put at the end as an example. They were pleased with that answer.

So we’re off and running with our timeline. Throughout the summer I’ll try to remember to post an update so you can see how it’s looking.

I have no idea how it will turn out, but isn’t that half the fun?

Grandma Grello’s Mashed Potato Bake

21 Mar

My memories of our summer days at the beach are very special to me.

As a kid, I spent at least half of each of my entire summers with Grandma and Grandpa Grello down by the beach near their house. We often slept there for a couple of weeks at a time while my parents worked. I have great memories of all the times we spent with them, the things we got to do, and of course, all the great things we got to eat while at their house. They made the best french toast, the best omelettes, the best pizza, the best everything.

As an adult with my own kids, I have made sure to take advantage of the fact that until recently we still had both of them in our lives and even now, we have her in our life still. I know how lucky we are, how lucky my kids are, and I do my very best to cherish this time with her, hoping to make similar memories for my kids to cherish too.

I tell you this not because I’m going off on a tangent, but because today’s recipe is another one of her recipes and it’s one that she made for our family a couple of summers ago after a day at the beach. Very often we would to take our kids to the beach, spend a good part of the day there, and then come back to her house to shower and change up for dinner.

In the time we’d spend at the beach, and entire dinner would be prepared for us, including appetizers, which was usually their famous homemade pizza and spinach pies.  Oftentimes there was a homemade blueberry pie sitting on the counter cooling as well, and ice cream in the freezer to go with it. (Hungry yet?) We’d eat our dinner, and then sit out on their deck for hours, having coffee and dessert out there while the kids played in the yard while the sun set, chasing rabbits (there were always so many rabbits in their yard, it seemed.) It was idyllic, to say the least.

I think of Grandma Grello and our days at the beach near her house, every time I make this.

One particular visit, she served us a whole roasted chicken with this amazing Mashed Potato Bake on the side. It wasn’t anything complex, but it was so delicious I couldn’t believe we’d never had it before. Now, every time we make it ourselves, I think of her and those times we spent at their house.

As you know, she’s famous for her homemade French Meat Pies, and since she gives us one for our freezer every year, I usually will make this Mashed Potato Bake as the side dish to go with it. This year Don made the mashed potato bake to go with the meat pie and it was as delicious as ever.

I don’t have a specific recipe for you, but it’s really super easy:

1) You make a basic recipe of mashed potatoes using as many potoates as you normally would, but when you are mashing them, add in about a half block of shredded cheddar cheese (more for a big batch, less for a smaller batch.)

2) Spread the mashed potatoes into a casserole dish and top with more cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and bacon bits.

3) Bake until crispy and brown around the edges.

Super easy, super delicious and for me, full of happy memories.

Gram Grello's Mashed Potato Bake with her French Meat Pie: the perfect combination of tastes and memories! Enjoy!