Many chances for fun in summertime

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

With the afternoon shower’s cooling work complete, birds sing happily while searching the lawn for a snack. As a youth I thought bird watching was totally NOT something I would ever find enjoyable. It was firmly filed away with stamp collecting and other nerdy activities that my oh-so-cool self found boring.

Now I love to feed and watch all the beautiful songbirds that come to my feeder. I confess that I have yet to pull out the binoculars and catalog every bird in my yard, but that could be next! Isn’t it funny how our ideas change over time? With age comes a knowing that the most beautiful things in life are usually free.

At vacation time some families may be wondering how to make some great family memories without breaking the bank. Family picnics are always fun and don’t cost much at all. I always enjoy creating a theme with coordinating colored plates and napkins to add a little beauty and interest. These things can be picked up at the dollar store for next to nothing.

Over the summer I always enjoyed letting my little ones plan, shop for and cook a meal. Of course it is imperative to help them choose a simple dish, but there are numerous cookbooks with kid-friendly recipes. We always made a big deal of praising them on their newly acquired cooking skills. My daughter, Melinda, found a recipe for taco soup that we enjoy to this day.

Camping is also an interesting and inexpensive memory maker. We just sold all our camping gear at a garage sale for a fraction of what it was worth, so I know that bargains can be found on such things. Don’t forget to put all scraps away after your meal. One time we camped out with the Boy Scout troop our boys were in and made this mistake. During the night we heard growling and yelping outside our tent. We peered out to see what all the commotion was about and saw coyotes fighting over the scraps! It was scary at the time, but boy what a memory!

In reality, some of our fondest family memories are times we camped in the family room with sheets over the furniture to make tents. We had Disney movie marathons complete with not so healthy snacks. We all stayed up too late, ate too much and shared the most important commodity any of us have…time.

There is an abundance of free or inexpensive museums in the area. This can be an enjoyable and educational experience for the whole family. Planning is the key to making fun memories. The Internet holds a wealth of information on free and inexpensive day trips.

The search and planning can be a wonderful family experience also. Just let the kids know what opportunities are available and plan an outing together. Anticipating the event also adds to the excitement. So if money is an issue, or even if it isn’t, there are wonderful experiences awaiting those who take the time. Our families are worth it.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at