So in tune with our summer thoughts I wanted to look back at some of my favourite summer memories of our life as a family. Memories that I hope will help our boys to appreciate time together.
So here are my top five... Ok so they are just five I can actually remember!!! My memory as I get older (yeah 38 is now officially OLD according to my kids!!) is shocking and I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday!!! But they are still good ones!!!
In no particular order....
#1 - Chasing Robin Hood
While we worked as part of the UK staff of Cru we attended a summer conference every year in Nottingham. We loved these as they combined Bible teaching, fellowship with friends and most importantly, an opportunity to chase Robin Hood.
Let me explain. Every year, as the boys grew in number and in age, we would spend our free time looking for clues that Robin Hood had visited. We'd go on searches of the local area looking for broken twigs which may signify a horse had just stepped on it, or a notch in a tree that may have been made by a stray arrow... We even made short videos of our adventures. And the final year we went, we made a visit to the all important Sherwood Forest to see exactly where he'd been!
The boys loved this - it encouraged their imagination to run riot and it encouraged their creativity as they performed make-believe news reports about their findings. Our one problem... we never did find Robin Hood. If you see him, please let us know... the search is still on!!
#2 - Legoland
One year while at conference we decided to take an extra couple of days at the end and go down to visit Legoland. At this stage we had only the eldest two boys and they really enjoyed it. They didn't really 'get' the buildings or amazing sculptures but they enjoyed 'passing' their driving test and riding the teacups and the roller coaster - if you can call a wee dragon on a up and down circular track a roller coaster!!! :) They had fun, we had fun... But after all this time the only thing they remember was the driving!!! And they are all still mad for Lego :)
#3 - Our beach hut
Every year, at some point in the summer holidays, we head up to the North Coast of Northern Ireland and go to Whiterocks Beach, just outside Portrush. We get all our beach stuff together get our swim shorts on and hit the beach - rain, hail or shine! The. Ours are like that - it really doesn't matter if the weather is bad or good since they'll end up spending most of heir time in the water anyway. I really don't understand that since the water is FREEZING, but I have been assured that it gets warmer the longer they are in it... or perhaps their bodies just go number the more they're in it!!
After a couple of years of running on and off the beach each time it bucketed, we devised our own wee beach hut that we used time and time again. We would set out our wind-breaks in a C shape, put the picnic blankets on the sand, and then add a tarpaulin to the poles using elastic bands. Then, when it was sunny we'd have the top off, ready to be pulled over us at a moment's notice! And if it rained we'd all huddle in our waterproof beach hut, wrapped in towels, having a wee snack!
I have to admit that there were times last summer when we were the only ones on the beach, and spent most of our time wrapped in our wee hut, but we loved it and it made for some great memories. Like the time someone let a wasp in before they closed the door and we all panicked trying to get it out!! Or the time we had a singsong and hadn't realised the rain had stopped!!
We had a problem - the rain - and together we figured out a great solution and had great fun doing it!!! You can't ask for more than that!
#4 - A little bit of help...
When we go on holiday we like to go somewhere close so that both sets of grandparents can call up and see us and enjoy our holiday too. So up until this summer we have either gone to Portrush, Ballycastle or Donegal. And in each place we'd have my hubby's mum and dad join us for one or two nights, and then my mum and dad join us for a couple of nights.
The boys love being around both of our families and the love having people come to visit them on holiday. And again great memories are made.
Like the time when Nanny and Granda K came to visit them in Ballycastle and we went on a boat trip to Rathlin Island. After we'd spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the island and playing at the park, we headed back onto the boat where son number 3 caught his finger in the seat of the boat and took his nail completely off!! Talk about screams.... You probably could hear him in the States he cried that much!! And there was A LOT of gorgeous red blood. Not good for the faint-hearted. But when we talk about that holiday it's "Is that the time I hurt my finger when we went on the boat with Nanny and Granda?"
Or the time when Granny A and Granda H came to visit us when we were up in Portstewart for the day, and during that one day I managed to get everything packed for the beach wrong (like packing food that needed heated up in a microwave but not bringing the picnic blanket or a knife for the baps!), burn dinner (it was chilli and I was talking too much to Granny that I forgot to stir it) and then totally beaten in Uno and monopoly - and no, for once Granny wasn't cheating!! It was an hilarious day of mishaps, but perhaps one of he funniest days for the boys - they spent most of it in fits of giggles as I continued to lose my brain entirely!!!
Or the time when Nanny and Granda K came to visit us in Donegal and on a particularly wet day we decided to head into Letterkenny to the cinema. Now, my dad is my youngest son's hero. He follows him around like a puppy and does everything with him. So when he said that he wanted to take Kanga (as he called him) into the cinema to see 'Cars 2', Kanga had to say yes. My dad is in his 60s and is a very fit man who cycles miles every day, but... is also in his 60s and has a tendency to doze off in odd places. So, as you can probably guess, Cars 2 is now known as "that film we went to see on holiday that Kanga fell asleep in" :)
There are of course hundreds of wonderful memories from when the grandparents come to visit us on holiday, but none as funny or memorable as these!!
#5 - Games time
My boys are competitive. Their dad was a footballer and is now a footballer coach and a coach-educator all around the world, so being competitive is in their blood. They have been taught from an early age to win well - no gloating allowed... or at least not too much :) - and to lose well - we have never 'let' our kids win anything - they just usually figure out how to beat me quite easily!
And because of this, some of our best times on holiday involve playing games. From football in the park... to races in the sand... to flying toy aeroplanes... to playing Uno... to games of chess (yep they all beat me in that one!!)... to the seven DIFFERENT types of Monopoly that we own... they play to win - or at least be happy if they manage to beat me!!
These games nights (and days) are some of the best craic that we have ever had and they are such a big part of our holidays that they are the first thing packed when the boys pack their bags. They are great for rainy days, for quiet days and for relaxing evenings. And they are a great way of getting everyone in the family doing the same thing.
So there are a few of our holiday memories. Holiday time to us is family time, making lots of great memories I pray will stay with the boys. And with a family of 6, finding activities to suit everyone is hard. But we try to do everything together and make sure they know how important these years of family time are.
What do you do in the summer? Tomorrow I'll post a bit about the holiday we had last week and some lessons I learned, before talking through some plans for the summer weeks we have left on Tuesday.
Keep shining xx