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Enjoying Summer With Your Family

Five Tips for a Connected Family Summer

Summer is here! Here are some tips to help you enjoy it with your family.

1. The Living is Easy

Make plans to downshift your rhythm into a slower pace this summer. Can you work fewer days a week rather than taking one long vacation? When you think of summer, what comes to mind? Catching minnows at the local pond? Licking an ice cream cone with your dad? Take time out for activities reminiscent of your childhood and create some new summer rituals with your kids. The child in you will squeal with glee, and the child who lives with you will squeal right along.

2. Kitchen Memories

Let your kids loose in the kitchen to invent their own concoctions. Maybe they could create a portable summer menu using fruit on a stick, sandwiches, crackers and peanut butter – then pack it all up for an evening picnic dinner. One mother waits all year for summertime cooking with her kids: "My four kids and I plan summer feasts in the cold winter months. We don't go away on a fancy vacation but we pretend we're at the shore with our lobster bakes and in a Parisian cafe sipping iced tea. My kids are young but they know how to peel ginger and giggle over kitchen adventures."

3. Neighborhood Games

Set up a game table on your porch, deck or under a shady tree – a simple card table will do. Buy a large plastic, waterproof bin with a snug top to store puzzles, games and a deck of cards. Maybe your house will be known as the "place to stop for a good game of chess or checkers."

4. Butterfly Adventures

Don't take butterflies for granted – any creature that smells stuff with their feet is pretty cool. Gardens, meadows, fields and woods are great places for spotting these beautiful nectar feeders. Is there milkweed growing in a vacant lot near your home? If so, it's a sure bet your kids will find some Monarchs. Read up on butterflies; North America's Favorite Butterflies by Patti and Milt Putnam is just the right size for little hands. Bring a sketchpad to draw the varieties you see: mourning cloak, American painted lady, gray hairstreak, great spangled fritillary.

5. Day Tripping

Select a day to visit your town as if for the first time. Forget chores and routines and instead strap the binoculars around your neck and head out to explore. Read some local history; eat lunch in a restaurant you've never tried; ask for directions even if you know where you're going. Take the time to talk to the waitress, speak to the family next to you in the park, and open your awareness to guide you on your explorations.

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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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