July 2 marks the half-way point of every year except leap years. Take a mental look backwards — how have the first six months of the year been? Did you keep up with those easily-discarded resolutions or goals? Accomplish much on your bucket list? Turn your thoughts the other direction — ready for another school year? Started that Christmas list yet?
Whether looking at the first six months of the year or the second six months of the year, hopefully, there are lots and lots of quality family time minutes in the form of memories or plans. The halfway-point of summer, officially, remains days away, but I hope your family has made enough memories and had enough fun for two summers already. If not, get busy with a few of these zany, but actual celebrations, or make up a few of your own.
Liberty Bell Month — Refresh your memory on America’s history. Read about the Liberty Bell online. Do you know when the bell cracked? Could you hazard a guess as to how much the Liberty Bell weighs? All these facts and way more than you ever dreamed of knowing can be found in various places online. Check out ushistory.org to find out interesting tidbits about people, places, documents and events in American history. Then watch the Disney movies, National Treasure, parts one and two for some interesting facts and lots of fiction about historical events.
Graham Cracker Day — Try out this holiday snack using chocolate-flavored graham crackers. Be sure to watch kids around the hot stove and administer cooking tasks age-appropriately. Line a jelly-roll pan (approximate size 15 inch X 10 inch X 1 inch) with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick coating. Place one dozen chocolate graham crackers on the pan to cover it completely. Melt three-fourths cup butter and three-fourths cup brown sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture just begins to boil. Pour the melted mixture over the crackers and bake in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes, until bubbles appear on top. Remove the pan carefully from the oven and sprinkle three cups of miniature marshmallows. Bake for 2 minutes until the marshmallows begin to soften. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on patriotic-colored M & M candies. Cool completely, then cut into pieces along the cracker perforations.
Barn Day — Go for a drive in the country and observe old and new barns. After returning home, create a fun barn craft using wooden craft sticks. Glue various sizes of craft sticks onto posterboard or cardboard in the shape of a barn. When the glue dries completely, paint the barn with white and red to look brand new or use various browns and grays and give it an antique feel. Draw and color some animals for the barn, too!
Cow Appreciation Day — Did you add some cows to the picture of your barn? Celebrate this moo-ving holiday with some classic literature and some new samples, too. Read "The Story of Ferdinand," first published in 1936 and will soon be coming to theaters as a motion picture. Ferdinand waited a long time to be on the big-screen, but has warmed children’s hearts in book-form for years. Read also "Click Clack Moo!" "No Moon, No Milk," "The Day the Cow Went Oink" and many other bovine beauties found in the library. Drink a glass of milk, chocolate or plain, while enjoying cow books a-plenty.
National Tennis Month — This holiday can only truly be celebrated with some rousing games of tennis, but find other ways to play with a tennis ball throughout the month. Give each person a kitchen oven mitt and gather in the driveway. Bounce a tennis ball to each other and try to catch the ball after one bounce. Or, give each player a broom and a tennis ball and have them relay to see who can get the ball across the finish line first. Try this game, too: give two contestants a large pillow case and have each person hold onto two corners. Then have a third player toss the tennis ball into the air and the pillow-case-holders try to catch the ball before it hits the ground. See if anyone in the family can juggle three tennis balls. Practice dribbling a tennis ball with your hand like a basketball. Who can dribble the longest? Make up other creative ways to play with tennis balls and enjoy tennis activity all month long.
Make summertime memories throughout the month of July. Find ways to get outside, but remember to protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated. Play in sprinklers, swim in pools and visit the ocean. Be thankful for America’s freedom, thank a veteran and watch the fireworks. Have lots of picnics that include boiled peanuts or watermelon or lemonade. Swing in a hammock or read on the front porch swing. Hang onto family memories from the first six months of the year and go boldly and creatively into the second half of 2017. Have a happy July!
Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.