Making Memories with Family Adventures

Many of our friends know that we love to go on adventures.  Adventures are fun any time of the year, but summer is particularly great because we aren’t in school and the weather is good.The time together on our adventures has bonded our family and brought joy and refreshment to our souls.  We seldom spend money beyond the cost of gas and a picnic, but the memories are invaluable.

Making a Plan When the girls were young there was little money for entertainment, so we looked for ways to be creative.  We would tell the girls that on Saturday (or whatever day worked) we were going on an adventure.  We didn’t tell them what we were doing or where we were going.  (That way if things didn’t work out, we could choose an alternative plan without disappointing them!)  Our adventures today aren’t always a surprise, but they’re always full of fun. We usually pack a picnic lunch to eat along the way.  The same food we eat in our kitchen seems much more exciting when we’re sitting on a blanket under a tree.  Our traditional and simple picnic lunch: chicken salad, loaf of bread, bag of carrots, bag of grapes.  We usually have those items on hand, they’re easy to pack, and the sandwiches are easy to assemble at our picnic.  (Sometimes I throw in an unexpected sweet treat!)  Because we pack the same things each time, everyone knows the drill and can help.

Choose a Destination Most of our adventures are free (or very cheap!) and close to home (an hour or less drive).  We chose the simple pleasures of life and things that our special to our area—a walk on the beach, a ride on a car ferry, a hike at the arboretum, a climb up a lighthouse, or a walk in Williamsburg.  The goal is not to “wow” the kids but just to enjoy life together.  Here are some other resources to help you choose adventure destinations:

Summer Fun Jar I asked the girls to dictate to me the activities they wanted to do and I recorded them on slips of paper.  (Ex.  Go rollerskating, go to the park, paint, have a hair salon, play a marathon Phase 10 game with all 10 phases…)  Many activities were just fun things to do around the house and others were more like adventures.  We put these slips of paper in an old tin and named it the “Summer Fun Jar,” though it wasn’t a jar at all!  We continued to add activities until summer break arrived. During the free days of our summer, we took turns choosing a slip of paper from the “Summer Fun Jar.”  The paper chosen revealed the adventure of the day.  Some days it was just us girls, but Dad joined us for the adventures away from home. If you don’t feel that you have enough time to create your own “Summer Fun Jar,” you can purchase Summer Fun, our collection of family-friendly boredom busters for fun-filled adventures. Nearly every card in this book represents a slip of paper that was in our “Fun Jar” or an activity that we’ve done as a family. Ideas are divided into categories by color of paper: sunny day (yellow), rainy day (gray), requires money (green), ministry opportunities (white), and girlie activities (pink).  Other activities are listed by regions in PA, MD, VA and NC (purple).  We’ve also included some blank cards for you to add your own activities.  Since the online store is temporarily under construction, you can order Summer Fun by calling Daughters 4 God at 757.472.1897.

Letterboxing If you like searching for hidden treasure, letterboxing is for you!  People around the world hide plastic boxes (think: Glad disposable).  Your job is to find the hidden box using the clues posted online. Getting started is simple.  At letterboxing.org you’ll find several options on the home page.  There’s a “getting started” article as well as a “search for boxes” option that sends you to a page where you’ll enter your geographic information.  Choosing by region narrows your choices more specifically to your geographic area.  Click on the name of the box to link to the clues.  Use the “Print View” option on their website for a printable version of the clues.  Before you begin your hunt, bring your printed clues, a small notebook and a stamp you would use to make a craft—not the US mail type! When you locate the box, you’ll find a treasure inside.  Each box usually has a stamp (many hand-carved), a stamp pad and a small notebook.  Your job is to use their stamp to stamp your notebook.  Then use your stamp to make an entry in their notebook.  Sometimes we remember to bring our stamp and sometimes we don’t.  Instead of a stamp, we always sign our names and where we’re from. If you enjoy letterboxing, you may also enjoy hiding a box and creating the clues.  We also thought it would be cool to have a specific “family stamp” to use for our letterboxing adventures.  Maybe someone in your family could carve a stamp with symbols that reflect your family. While doing some research for this article, I also discovered another letterboxing website: www.atlasquest.com.  We’ve never used this website, but I found that some clues from the letterboxing site are linked to the Atlas Quest site.  Same basic idea with basic information to get started and a way to search boxes, though there are more specific descriptions about your location including the length of the hike, whether it is bike friendly or pet friendly, and whether it is in a fee area. Our family has been on several letterboxing adventures in our hometown as well as in a neighboring state.  We were unable to find a few of the boxes, but the directions led us to discover some beauty of God’s creation that we would’ve otherwise missed if we hadn’t been searching for a plastic box!

Summer 2010… As the girls grow older, our summer has quickly filled with jobs and other commitments. There are fewer days available for adventures.  It is with fondness that I look back on those special family times.  I anxiously look forward to the few unplanned days of our summer when we can pick a card from the “Summer Fun Jar” and go on yet another Moore Family Adventure.

Post a comment to this article and tell us about your letterboxing experiences or your fun family adventures.

Modest Swimsuit Options

It’s hard to believe that swimsuit season is nearly upon us.  Our family used to dread this season, but now we look forward to the summer.  Several years ago the girls came to me wanting to find more modest swim suits.  Even though they were wearing very modest one-piece suits, the suits showed more skin than the girls were comfortable with.  So began the quest to find a modest suit.  I recognize that every family has different standards regarding modesty, but if you’re looking for other options for swimsuits, here are a few suggestions that have worked for our family. PLEASE NOTE:  We are not endorsing any of these products, but merely relaying our experiences in hopes that your family will be able to locate modest swimwear that suits your needs.

Swim Modest I really liked the style of the one-piece suits (short sleeves, shorts and attached sarong), especially for very active girls.  We’ve ordered three child-sized suits from Swim Modest.  The girls especially liked that they could pick out the fabric, but they found that the sarong sometimes got in the way of serious swimming.  It was especially modest for playing on the beach.  The lining in the panty was not attached well, but could easily be attached more securely.   The material is not as thick as Land’s End suits we’ve owned, but they did make it through two years of frequent pool use.

Stitchin’ Times Owned by a woman in Lancaster County, PA, Stitchin Times specializes in custom-made suits with several options, including choice of fabrics.  Styles include a one piece swim dress with attached swim panty or shorts and newly added swim separates—a dress with a swim panty or swim shorts.  The first suit we ordered was a girls-sized cotton blend fabric which took a long time to dry.  Also, a seam under the arm of the tank was slightly bunched and made a red mark after a long day of swimming.  We really liked the quality and the mid-thigh length of the skirt.  The second suit we ordered was a lycra spandex blend and it worked better for us.  Because the material was lighter weight, there was no problem with the seam under the arm. We ordered a sleeveless adult suit and found the skirt was a great length, about mid thigh.  The top of the suit had an attached soft cup bra, but we didn’t like that the outline of the cups were noticeable.  The company gives you the option to special order a suit without a bra so you can wear your own.  We’re trying that option this year for the two younger girls.

Land’s End I’ve ordered various products from Land’s End for more than fifteen years.  The quality and service have never disappointed me.  While the quality has declined slightly over the years, the quality still remains far above the average suit you purchase at a department store.  They usually have several modest suits even for serious swimmers, depending on the styles offered for the year.  We’ve ordered several children’s suits and especially liked the full lining and the full coverage in the seat area.  We prefer the traditional tank design because the “racer back” design makes the arm holes a little low.  We’ve ordered several adult suits.  I love the options for torso, leg opening, bra type and style.  Again, the seat coverage is good and many suits have coordinating cover up skirts available to purchase separately.

If you aren’t able to afford these options but still want to instill modesty in your daughters, consider using my mom’s guidelines.  She asked that when her children were not swimming in the pool or the ocean, we had to be sufficiently covered—boys with a shirt on, girls with a cover up that covered our bottom.  She didn’t want us lounging around wearing so little.  I believe she was on to something.  I hope that these suggestions will bless your family and encourage your daughters as you make swimsuit choices for your family this summer.