Slow down…it’s SUMMER!

ImageDriving down the street the other day my husband and I came bumper to bumper with a “slow poke” driver. There are slow drivers, but then there was this old, beater truck with a baby tree in the back. I smiled, “they are probably going slow so their new tree doesn’t fall over.” We then got to a point where we could pass her & it was a big reminder to SLOW DOWN…life is short & summer is even shorter. I still wish I would have been able to capture the image on my camera. It was a women, wearing a woven cowgirl type style hat, eating a popsicle, just enjoying the ride. It was a darling moment—her casually enjoying her childhood ice pop, tenderly driving her baby tree home to its new destination. A priceless lesson of how summer should be, so I thought today I would put together some additional ideas on how to slow down this summer and enjoy the ride!!

ImageMake your own home mades: Whether your family loves freshly squeezed lemonade, fruit punch ice pops, hot chocolate chip cookies, home made buttermilk pancakes, or fresh wheat break for their pb&j’s, take a moment, slow down and make something home made for your family.

ImageSit under a tree: Trees have this amazing energy & will freely give…Trees are among the world’s greatest givers. Their slow and gentle life cycles provide the world with clean air, their roots fi lter water, and their majestically spreading branches provide shade. Full of vibrant, natural energy, trees can also give us the gifts of peace and nurturance. Hug- ging or sitting with your spine against the trunk of any tree can ground your body and inspire a profound closeness with nature, as the energy of the tree connects to you. Making physi- cal contact with a tree can help you relax, alleviate stress, sleep more deeply, and hold on to more positive energy. Trees can absorb great amounts of energy and have the ability to soak up harmful energy from deep within you. If you are feeling anxious, sad, drained, or tense, then try hugging a tree. Go to the woods, a garden, or a park, and fi nd a tree that you would like to hug. Stand next to the tree and close your eyes. Relax your senses while breathing in the scent of leaves and bark. Listen to the creaking of the branches…If you would feel more comfortable, you can sit with your back pressed to the tree for the same effect…Remember to thank the tree because, by hugging your tree, you are drinking from the well of natural copious energy cultivated by the tree’s many years on this earth. –dailyom.com

Image“To swing or not to swing.SWING!” 

Swing high: As a kid swinging had this magical sense of flying, feeling as if you could touch the clouds, having now worries and then jumping as far and high as possible. I think a good swing can take you back to the feelings of possibility and take worries away, so slow down and have a good swing!

Image“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”  -John Ruskin

Plant a flower and watch it grow: There is wonder and ah in watching a seedling grow, seeing the sprouts, watching it reach toward the light and changing each day. Watering its little pot and observing how the water seeps into the rich soil to drain in small puddles. There is a natural flow, a magic that can be pushed, forced or changed. Nature holds so many lessons and watching a flower grow in love, nurturing its small, delicate petals, talking gently to it…everything about it slows the world around you. It makes you stop and take notice of the little details, the progress it has made, the timing of everything.

Image“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.”  -Nadine Stair

Walk barefoot: There was a wise man who one said if you always walk the earth in leather shoes—it will feel like the earth is hard leather.

Image“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” -Frank Kafka

Have some quiet time: Whether you create a specific time to take a nap, gather your children around for quiet reading time or just do nothing…quiet is good. We often have too many stimuli around us all the time (the television noise, gaming, the inbox, the phone, loud music, neighbor drama, cars whizzing down the street…) slow down and let your mind rest.

Disconnect: Have a No electronics day or each day limit it to one hour & that is it. Try leaving your phone home when you go on a walk. Limit checking your emails to 2x a day. If your constantly carrying your phone, you will have interruptions, so be mindful. Have limited television watching, by having the kids earn one television show or movie for a special occasion.

Image“We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”  -Anon

Play a simple game: Slow down with a fun card game or pull out a set of jacks, maybe a fun outdoor game of croquet. Simple games allow the mind to wander while also engaging in something that avoids boredom and can spur on a little fun. Simple is better.

Image“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, was really going in.”  -John Muir

Do something outside that is relaxing: like bubble blowing, cloud watching, star gazing, go on a nature walk, chalk drawing, have a picnic, lay in the long grass, listen to the wind, watch the trees sway. Nature has a connecting quality that seems to heal our soul. Over and over I read about nature, the lessons we can learn, the natural cures she holds, the health benefits, the peace. Nature has a magical charm that we often overlook to help us slow down, to change our perspective, to see our own personal needs. We just need to see it.

Image“Water, air and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy.”  -Napoleon Bonaparte

Fresh air: Open your windows as much as possible. We use to not have as much asthma or breathing problems in our children. We use to leave our windows open to blow in fresh air and send the stagnate, dead air away. We don’t usually do that any more. We turn on our a/c and let everything circle and circle. Open your windows, dry your clothes outside for a change, let the wind take away any worries, to clear out your lungs, to send in the natural fragrance of a lilac bush.

ImageTry slowing down the things that are routine: Can you consciously begin to eat slower during meals? What about driving, can you slow down or not get frustrated at other drivers?

Stop multi-tasking for one day: Begin one day at a time. Can you take one day and focus on one thing at a time? Can you be present in each moment & not thinking of the next and the next list of things that need to be done. Try it and see how you feel. Then try it another day and another, soon you will be slowing down your mind and enjoying the summer and not list tasking through it. ENJOY IT!

ImageJust Breathe.

Well, those are some ideas to get you started on slowing down & taking the time to enjoy your SUMMER.  Have a Happy day!! -Heather

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Best FAMILY Movie Night!

ImageGood Family Movies

Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.  -Walt Disney

I remember as a kid sleeping out under the stars, but the few times we did, we usually had an outdoor movie.  I am sure with six kids my parents felt getting everything ready was quite an event–dragging the heavy television into the backyard, finding something that would hold its weight, connecting the (then VHS player) with the many extension cords that would extend into the house, making popcorn, finding enough blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and then trying to pick a movie that everyone would like.  [A little exhausting]  Thanks Mom and Dad. Your efforts were well worth the good memories.

I now do the same thing for my daughter Kate and her ten cousins. We try and make it a fun event because we know the memories will last even longer. Summer is short, childhood goes by so quickly, but the memories will always remain. 

Well, backyard, outdoor movies are one of my favorite memories for summer fun, so I thought I would compile some top family movies to make your  movie night fabulous!!! 

According to IMDb “Highest Rated Family Feature Films with at least 1,000 votes”

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)  2. Spirited Away  3. Toy Story 3   4. Wall-E    5. The Lion King   6. The Kid   7. Up   8. Toy Story   9. The Gold Rush   10. My Neighbor Totoro   11. The Wizard of Oz   12. How to train your dragon   13. Finding Nemo   14. Children of Heaven   15. Howl’s Moving Castle   16. The Princess Bride   17. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale   18. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:Part 2   19. A Wednesday   20. Castle in the Sky

Here is the link to the rest of this list:  http://www.imdb.com/search/title?genres=family&title_type=feature&num_votes=1000,&sort=user_rating,desc

According to Parents.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 2 Ella Enchanted (2004) 3 E.T. (1982) 4 Freaky Fiday (2003)

5 Harry Potter 6 The Sound of Music (1965) 7 Spy Kids (2001)

8 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) 9 Whale Rider (2003) 10 Wizard of Oz (1939)

I found this list awhile ago, but they also just listed the 50 best movies for kids and here is the link:  http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/movies/50-best-videos-for-kids/#page=1

According to TopTenReviews.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics

1 E.T.   2 Wizard of Oz   3 Toy Story   4 Oliver (1968)   5 The Sound of Music   6 Up 7 Finding Nemo   8 The Incredibles   9 Time Bandits (1981)  10 A Christmas Story (1983)

They also have lists for Best Movies of each year and genre, from the 1930’s on up.

An article from Belief.net lists Family Movies that Teach Values

This article lists: It’s A Wonderful Life (teaches responsibility), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (teaches Integrity), A Man for All Seasons (teaches Courage), Babe (teaches Courtesy), Remember the Titans (teaches tolerance), Toy Story 2 (teaches loyalty), Akeelah and the Bee (teaches learning), War Games (teaches Peace), A Little Princess (teaches Helping Others), Holes (teaches Fairness)

Here is the link to the complete article:  http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/2009/Family-Movies-That-Teach-Values.aspx

A few of my personal family favorites:

The Family Man (2000) is a great movie that is about a man who truly learns what is most important .

The Princess Protection Program (Disney 2009) is a great movie that teaches many good morales–kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, being princess like.

I like all the National Treasure movies—they put a fun spin on adventure, but you can also learn something within the twists and turns. I think it makes kids want to learn more about history. Plus, there is suppose to be a third out sometime in 2014. Fun for the whole family.

This also reminds me of the Night at the Museum movies–they seem to be a doorway to a child’s imagination, with a hint of history, nostalgia and lots of fun characters.

Other fun family movies that would be perfect for an outdoor movie, a family movie night or just some plain, summer FUN: The Game Plan, Nancy Drew, Dreamer, Bedtime Stories, Ever After, The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie (adventure), Nim’s Island, Return to Nim’s Island, both Nanny McPhee, The Parent Trap (old and new versions), Ella Enchanted, I could go on and on…The Kid, Freaky Friday, Tangled, Hotel for dogs…and thats not even touching on some of the great animated films like The Lorax, Despicable Me, Wreck-it Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, How to win your Dragon…and on and on…lots of fun, family movies to enjoy this summer!!

Well, as summer gets going, get outside and watch a fun, family movie!! [Or watch one inside] Make it a memorable experience with a fun show, big pillows or comfy mats, maybe some new summer pj’s, yummy food & snacks, smiles and family. Those are the ingredients to some of the best summer memories.

-Happy Summer,  Heather

Fun SUMMER Mix

Summer Mix

“Hey! It’s Summer! Be free and happy and fanciful and uninhibited!”  -Terri GuillemetsImageSummer is a fun time to mix-it-up with something new…try some new music, read a new book, find a great vacation spot, something new to make for a family picnic…I am going to shake it up and start doing some Mixing. Here is a fun SUMMER MIX you will find at my house. Enjoy!!

Good SUMMER READS     

“One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”  -Jeannette Walls

ImageA few books in my collection that are good reads: The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin: Why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun. This was a great book with wonderful perspective. It helps you see someone else’s life perspective, how to insight and good anecdotes for real life. A Good SUMMER read. She also has a new book Happier at Home. I may read it this summer.

A few more from my bookshelf: Dr. Wayne Dyer, has many amazing books, but Being in Balance is a pick for this summer  –  Andy Andrews has numerous inspirational books, The Traveler’s Gift, The Butterfly Affect & The Noticer are just a few good ones I have read  –  Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea is one I have been saving for a summer time read  –  Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements  –  Loved the fable by Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist – Robin Sharma also has some great books including, The Monk who sold his Ferrari   Hopefully something here will spark an interest!! Happy Reading.

Good SUMMER FOOD

“Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year–it brings to the harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.”  -unknown

ImageSummer is a fun time to do an outdoor bbq, make some yummy, cold pasta salads, toss up a fresh garden salad or step out and try something new to MIX into your summer routine. I came across this great recipe for fish tacos—looks good, something new I want to try.ImageFood Network Fish Taco with Watermelon Salsa—sounds delicious!  Here is the link to make the yummy dish. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/fish-tacos-with-watermelon-salsa-recipe/index.html

Here is the link to their other yummy sumer recipes   http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooking/fresh-healthy-summer-recipes/pictures/index.html

I came across another good site that has 100+ summer recipes. Here is the link http://www.theurbanbaker.com/100-great-summer-recipes/

Good SUMMER MUSIC          

“In Summer, the song sings itself.” -WCWilliams

ImageDemi Lovato has a new album out & this is a good song to dance to called Neon Lights. I also love her new song Nightingale—beautiful.

Other fun SUMMER songs you’ll find in my playlist include:

Of Monsters & Men, Little Talks and Yellow Light  –  Lana Del Rey, Young & Beautiful from the movie The Great Gatsby  –  Jessie Ware, Wildest Moments  –  Ellie Goulding  –  Katie Melua, Just Like Heaven, Thank you, Stars, Nine Million Bicycles, If you were a Sailboat  –  Calvin Harris, I need your love, Feel so close, Sweet Nothing  –  One Republic’s new album – something mellow Carinthia….hopefully you will find something in this list you like.

Good Family FUN SUMMER SPOTS

ImageHere is a collection of top vacation spots according to different sources:   the first has a whole listing for Best Vacations around the world   from travel.com http://travel.usnews.com/

the next comes from familyvacationcritic.com   http://www.familyvacationcritic.com/10-best-vacation-bets-for-2013/art/   (Fyi #4 spot is near my home in Utah)

the 10 Best Budget Destinations for 2013 listed here from budget travel.com   http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/best-budget-destinations-for-2013,12651/

and don’t forget to…

Image“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.” -John Lubbock

Image“Find Joy and BeWILDerment!”   Step out of your comfort and be free, a little more WILD in your day! Get out in nature, notice the little details, see the wonder in all you do.

ImageEnjoy Summer! Enjoy every moment. Seize the warmth, the sunshine, the cool lemonade, the starry nights, the sandals, the memories you make with those you love.

HAPPY SUMMER!  -Heather

Summer Bucket List to do with your Family

ImageWith less than a month before the kids get out of school I thought it would be fun to compile a giant bucket list of fun summer things to do. Summer inspires FUN!! Everyone needs SUMMER FUN no matter where you are or where you are going…so here are some fun ideas I created, came across, thought would be fun, thought you may enjoy!!!

Make smoothies with fresh, summer fruit . fly kites—even homemade ones . play card games outside on a blanket . take a paddle boat ride . have a outdoor movie (always fun) . make old fashioned frozen pops (with punch & toothpicks) . have a day where you have a family read-a-thon and read books all day . go on a nature hike . have a chalk art day where you invite friends and family to do a chalk art sidewalk show & have the best art win fun prizes . make smores over an open fire . have a picnic under the stars & learn about constellations . make tin foil meals over a fire . make a hopscotch with duct tape or chalk & play . Have a day of old school games like jacks, dice, marbles, jump rope, pick up sticks . Make a fun fort outside or inside (forts are always fun!) . make homemade sno-cones . Visit a zoo, but turn it into a scavenger hunt where you look for different objects & animals . go on a family bike ride & take along a picnic . play night games like flash light tag . go to the river & find skipping rocks, come home & paint them with funny faces, patterns or inspiring words . Get family & friends together and have a giant hide & seek game at a local park . make home made ice cream . Find a local waterfall to hike to . girls pick out a cute sundress & then paint your nails . Plant something–have every member of the family pick out their own flower & plant it, water & take care of it (family flower garden) . Have a family pizza night & make everything from scratch . Go on an overnight camp out . Have a day (preferably bad weather) & have a movie or series marathon–veg out & watch the shows (non-stop) for the entire day (i.e.: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, etc) . Have a pillow fight night- but first make the pillows (buy fleece & make knot pillows for each person in the fam) then have a fun fight . Make something and share it with someone . Leave the windows open & feel the breeze (plus it helps the planet cut down on energy use) . Have a creative ice cream night where everyone mixes all their favorite mix ins & shares their one-of-a-kind flavor . Find a pool & go night swimming . See the sun set over a lake . Find a special spot to see the sun rise . Have a fun yard sale & get rid of old toys & things you don’t need & then give the money to a charity or someone in need . Play in the sprinklers . Buy cheap cameras for everyone & visit a local garden, have them take personal pictures, create a fun gallery, assign family ‘best’ awards . Have a storytelling contest–get friends & family together to share stories & give fun awards for ‘the most creative’ ‘the funniest’ ‘the best characters’ ‘the shortest’, etc . Make pinwheels & put them in your yard . Have a fun ice age day, freeze toys in ice cubes & chip them out while you watch the movie Ice Age . Have an all day Pajama day . Have a squirt gun fight . Make summer journals . Make & decorate wood cars & have a fun, family race . Make & mail summer cards to friends from school or relatives who live far away . Visit a local nature center & learn something new . Make bird feeders, get your binoculars out & do some bird watching . Visit a local flea market & give each family member $5 to spend & see who comes up with the greatest find . Have a fun foreign word or phrase for each week–see who can remember it at the weeks end . Have a specific day each week where you unplug (no television, games, electronics, etc) . Have special Art days where you create special works of art inspired by master artists . Go take photo booth family pics . Do a 500/1000 piece puzzle together over the summer months . Take a specific number of pictures over the whole summer (i.e. 300-1,000) . Try something new like canoeing, rafting, rollerblading, kayaking, paddleboarding, etc . Go to a community fair . Find a local scenic route you have never taken the family on & make it a fun family drive together . Have a weekly cooking class where you teach the kids a special meal to make (they cook it) . Have a fondue night . Have a crepe night where you make sweet & savory crepes . Have a paper airplane contest . Go to a parade . Visit a local farm . Go to a pottery place & make a fun summer piece that is personalized . Plant giant sunflowers . Go see and outdoor concert or play . Ride a train .  Camp in the backyard . Make ribs on the bbq . Do yoga in the backyard . Make play dough . Visit a museum . Finger paint  . Take a tram or gondola ride . Ten acts of random kindness .

Well, I hope these ideas get you thinking about all the FUN you can have with your family this summer. Summer is a great place to create memories, make the days enjoyable by learning something new, being together and having great moments together!!

Happy SUMMER!!