The first few days of summer break slid off the calendar, welcoming the month of June with large plans of summer fun. And officially-speaking, the summer season is still days away.
Yet without large yellow buses frequenting neighborhoods and homework assignments filling afternoons, "summer" is indeed here! Celebrate the end of spring and beginning of summer all month long with popsicles and fruit slushes, homemade ice cream and fresh vegetables, sleeping in and reading way past bedtime, trips to the library and registering for Vacation Bible School and lots and lots of picnics and sunshine. Try some of the celebrations below or create unique summer festivities of your own.
Dairy Month — Make a batch of this spicy cheese dip to snack on as an appetizer or enjoy as a light meal. Puree together one-fourth cup diced green chilies, one pickled jalapeño pepper and one ounce of pickled jalapeño juice. Pour the pureed mixture into a microwave-safe bowl and add one and one-fourth pounds of coarsely chopped white American cheese (available in the deli section of the grocery store in block-packaging), two-thirds cup of whole milk and one-half cup of cold water. Microwave one minute at a time and stir with a spoon after each minute. In about five minutes of cooking, the cheese will begin to melt and mixture will thicken. Continue to cook, one minute at a time, and stir with a whisk after each minute. When the cheese is completely melted and all ingredients are combined, serve with chips while warm.
World Juggling Day — Read the children’s picture book, "Just Because," by Rebecca Elliott, about a young girl who can’t juggle but does other fun things with her brother. Then practice the art of juggling with two bean bags and see if you can add a third. Online juggling tips are available, if necessary.
Hug Your Cat Day — Snack on Goldfish crackers and milk during a purr-fectly, marvelous family movie night. Watch an old favorite, "The Artistocats" or "Homeward Bound," to enjoy the antics of the furry felines. Consider adopting a kitten or adult feline to make it an extra-special celebration!
Summer Solstice — Celebrate the true beginning of summer according to the calendar with a fun, sunny craft to brighten the day. Using yellow watercolor paint or poster paint, let each family member paint a paper doily. Be sure to paint the doilies on top of newsprint or white paper to prevent paint from bleeding through the holes onto the table. While the paint dries, let each family member trace and cut out six to eight handprint shapes from yellow art paper. When the paint is completely dry, glue the doily onto a large sheet of blue construction paper, but don’t press the edges down just yet. Tuck the cut-out handprints in place around the doily, wrist-side of the handprint tucked under, so that the unglued finger portions of the print extend like rays from the sun. Give the sun a happy-face with craft eyes and a marker-drawn mouth, if desired, and write ‘Welcome summer!’ on the construction paper.
Candy Month — Make some chocolaty snacks and top with candy pieces to celebrate the holiday. Melt 10 ounces of chocolate coating or chocolate wafers and stir in 2 cups of cranberry and nut trail mix. Add 1 cup and stir, then add next cup slowly to reach the desired consistency of chocolate coating per crunchy pieces. While the mixture is still warm, quickly spoon out onto wax-coated paper into small clusters. Before the chocolate coating hardens, press two to four M & M candies into each cluster. When the chocolate clusters are completely cooled, store in an air-tight container at room temperature.
Enjoy every minute of the month of June, especially those extra daylight hours on the longest day of the year. Create lasting family memories to treasure and make every day a holiday!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.