Recently our family escaped out of town for the weekend to let loose at a water park. What a blast! We had not a care in the world, except to decide which ride to do next. We flipped on tubes, careened down slides, sloshed through tunnels, and trudged up hills carrying large tubes just to go down and do it all again. With how much fun the water park provided, there was something even better that stuck with me — our long conversations we had over the weekend. Priceless! We came back from that weekend with new plans to take more frequent mini-weekend trips as a family.

Typically society’s pace doesn’t afford us large amounts of leisure time to catch up with our family, or hear our children’s passions and interests. Instead, we flip over pages of to-do lists, careen down our daily schedules, slosh through life’s demands, and trudge up hills carrying our over-commitment only to wake up the next day and do it all over again. We don’t plan to spend our time that way, but life crowds in and before we know it, pressures dictate our schedules.

As I was reflecting on our weekend yesterday, I ran across a New York Times articles, Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop is Online. It addressed the changing times of text messages, cell phones, social networking and email and how such lures interfere with family time and communication.

I couldn’t get the article out of my mind. Maybe it bothered me so much because our treasured weekend was fresh on mind. Or perhaps it reminded me of how I can be pulled away from my own family to check or write a few emails. Whichever the case, I’ve found myself re-reading the article and reflecting on what lures me away from my top priorities.

There is no doubt — family weekend escapes are invaluable. But more importantly, how do we spend our time during the week? It’s in our daily routine that our priorities are tested. So are we ready to let loose? It may not be at a water park, but let’s decide what can wait and what is first. Then have some great family time!


School’s nearly out! How did this happen? I blinked, walked the dog, or something — but suddenly the school year is less than 2 weeks away from being over in our area.

My daughter is thrilled for school to be over, and while I always look forward to summer too, I also know it requires a bit of creativity on my part to make our summer fun and memorable, while still maintaining my writing, work, and household duties.

So to get into the spirit of summer — here are a few ideas to jump start your creative juices. Plan ways to not just survive this summer, but thrive and have fun doing it!

1.  Theme Days. Discuss with your children what themes you could come up for different days. By getting your children involved with you, they take ownership as well and you know they will be excited when that day comes.

2. Water, Water, Water. What child doesn’t like water? Whether it’s buying a small sprinkler head to put on a hose, or a mini wading pool they can play with the dog in, or a water balloon game — kids and water mean great fun. Get your cameras out and ready!

3. Gardening. Take your children to a nursery and pick out a flower, herb, or vegetable to plant at home. If you have no space to plant it, plant it in a pot and move it to the area you’d like. Kids enjoy getting dirty, plus they will take pride in seeing their plants grow.

4. Crafts. The internet is full of inexpensive craft ideas. Many items require little or no purchasing of supplies. Just type in “Summer crafts” or something of the sort in Google and get ready to jot down your favorite ideas. Then start creating!

5. Learn. For older children, let them choose a topic of interest, and allow them to research everything about that topic online. Then, set aside a time for them to share their knowledge with you. They love to see they know something you may not know, plus it encourages them to grow in their own learning.

6. Exercise. Children are like puppies in that if they are cooped up for too long, they start to go stir crazy. So whether it is an early morning nature walk, or afternoon bike ride to a park, get outdoors and let them burn off some of their excess energy!

Tune in next week for more ideas and summer fun. Happy planning!


Last week I returned from a wonderful vacation to see my close friend, Sue, in North Carolina. We had never met each others families given we’ve lived on opposite ends of the country much of the time since college. So a few weeks ago, I headed to the East coast. The day before I left for my trip, we spent nearly an hour talking on the phone. Her husband said in the background, “You guys won’t have anything to talk about when she gets here.” We burst out laughing.


That’s one difference between men and women — women don’t run out of things to say! We teased him throughout the trip asking him to give us conversational ideas in case we ran out of things to talk about. But we never needed his ideas. That’s the beauty of our friendship — we pick up right where our last conversation was, or from our last email. When we spend time together, it’s always a reminder to me that miles cannot separate our close friendship. She is a treasure to me. I don’t know what I’d do without her dear friendship.


It was such an absolute joy to be able to meet her family and actually see in front of me her husband and two boys that I’ve grown to know and love by photographs. She has such a delightful family, and a home filled with joy and laughter. I adored them all.


She and I spent a few days by ourselves in Myrtle Beach celebrating her birthday. We spent time on the beach, thoroughly canvassed the outlet malls, spent umpteen hours talking, ate terrific food, and even closed down a seafood restaurant one night as we sat engrossed in our conversations for hours at our table. It was such a great time!


Then we headed back to her house and I spent a few more days spending time with their family. I didn’t realize all the new things I’d experience traveling nearly 2,000 miles away from home. Having just a girl, I discovered playing with boys is much different. Boys make noises — deep and low sounds — or noises that sound like the cars that race down our road at times. I got to crash cars, careen monster trucks over pillows, be a law enforcer in a game of cops and robbers and bring in backup reinforcements from the army men and fire trucks. At one point, her five-year old boy laughed at me … I wasn’t sure if it was because he was shocked I made the noises, or if I did it wrong. Either way, I continued.


The other thing I had forgotten is what a little one-year old can get into. Anything and everything went into her youngest son’s mouth. Plastic hanger? Yummy. Books? Delicious! Paper? What roughage! Then I’d look at his big brown eyes and fantastic smile … and I melted. I also forgot how quickly a small child can scoot on their hands and knees. There should be an Olympic sport for that!


At the beach, I also experienced a few things like the East coast fishermen come to the beach, grab a net and scoop up from the ocean tiny fish for bait, then sink a PVC looking pipe into the sand, plant their pole into the pipe and stand there waiting for it to bend. Fascinating! I discovered the beaches in the fall have biting flies — not really a fun thing. But they also had shopping stores that we don’t have in this part of the country. What a treat!


My time there flew by and before I knew it, I was back on a plane heading home to my family. The endless stories I told my family once I returned has them now asking, “When do we get to meet them?” Soon …


Many people come and go in our lives. Some have a specific purpose in our journey and then move on. Others are woven into the very fabric of our life. Such friendships stand the test of time and the ups and downs of life. A true, treasured dear friend such as this — is priceless!