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Fun with the Family with Julie Lavender: Summertime, summertime let the fun times begin
Julie Lavender web
Julie Lavender

School's out for summer; let playtime begin. Hopefully your family has a list - mental or written - of lots and lots of fun activities to accomplish before the school bell chimes again. Stay up past bedtime and have a kids' movie marathon, build a fort in the den and read a chapter book together, chase fireflies, try new recipes, find a new trail for hiking, or go blueberry picking. Watch a thunderstorm from the safety of the family room, step in puddles with rainboots and tie streamers on the handlebars and have a bike parade. Find unique ways to celebrate the joys of family and make the most of the first month of summer break.

Add some of the following zany but real holidays to your must-do summer list, or make up a few of your own to enjoy during the warm days of June.

National Catfish Day - Create a three-dimensional catfish craft to celebrate this unusual fishy-feline-looking critter.

First draw a simple fish pattern that will fit onto a sheet of construction paper. Let each person trace and cut out two fish shapes. On one shape, glue small wads of tissue paper, leaving the outside edges free. Then glue the second shape onto the first shape, drawing a line of glue on the edge.

Glue a wiggly-eye onto each shape in the appropriate place to give the critter a fish face. Carefully insert craft pipe cleaners, two per fish, in an X-shape through the mouth area of the construction paper to resemble whiskers.

To hang, poke a hole at the top of the fish's back and attach a piece of fishing line or yarn.

Hot Air Balloon Anniversary - Has your family ever taken a hot air balloon ride? If you haven't braved that adventure, maybe you'd rather be a spectator. Look online to find hot air balloon festivals nearby and consider making a day trip to see these magnificent modes of transportation.

Until that opportunity arises, play balloon games to celebrate the day. Carefully inflate and tie a balloon for each member of the family, keeping in mind balloon safety for preschool-age and younger children. Then take part in relays to see who can keep their balloon in the air for the longest amount of time.

Try using only the left elbow to bounce the balloon into the air. Next, try using just the ankle. How about the knee next? Who's the reigning balloon champion?

National Fragrance Week - Be sure to enjoy the summer break with all five senses. Take a walk late in the afternoon with the purpose of enjoying the aromas of the season. Use your schnoz and your peepers to seek out such aromatic splendors as trumpet creeper and honeysuckle vines, elderberry bushes and magnolia, crepe myrtle, mimosa, pine, pecan and red cedar trees. Take a sniff of the leaves and blossoms. If you find a wax myrtle shrub or sassafras tree, pluck a leaf, crush it between your fingertips and take a sniff.

Be sure to watch for hummingbirds as you journey on the aromatic adventure; trumpet creeper vines are an excellent summer food source for the lovely, speedy birds.

Ballpoint Pen Birthday - When's the last time you wrote someone a letter, put a stamp on it and placed it in a mail receptacle? Choose someone you've not communicated with in quite some time and write a letter with pen and paper. Let each family member use a different color ink pen to add personal sentiments. Address the envelope, add a stamp and drop it in the mail.

Vinegar Day - Why not celebrate with this yummy recipe? Prepare the ingredients of this tangy green bean dish the night before you plan to cook it, as it requires marinating overnight.

Cook 8 strips of bacon, reserving the drippings. Drain and crumble the bacon and set aside.

Stir together the bacon drippings, 6 tablespoons of sugar and 6 tablespoons of vinegar. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, pour 2 large cans of French-style green beans in a baking dish. Use a knife to cut an onion into thin slices. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top of the beans; then place the thin onion slices on top of the bacon. Pour the bacon dripping mixture over the beans, then cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to prepare, bake the beans in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

The first few days of June have disappeared from the calendar. Be sure to make the most of the remaining days of the first month of summer break by playing board games, taking in a baseball game, attending a local church's Vacation Bible School, honoring dads and granddads, going fishing, visiting the ocean, wearing sunscreen and shades and creating lasting family memories to treasure throughout the summer.

Statesboro native Julie Bland Lavender is married to David Lavender and enjoys celebrating with children Jeremy, Jenifer, Jeb Daniel and Jessica.



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