Designing our summer: kid activities, daily routines, and family fun
Budgeting wins and challenges lately

Designing my summer 2024


I'm ready to shift into a summer mindset. And good thing because summer weather is knocking at our door and the kids are done with school next Thursday!

In my previous post I shared how we're designing our summer with activities for the kids, daily routines, and family fun. Today I'd like to share how we're designing our summer in terms of my mindset, summer eating + drinking, and everyday joys. If you'd like more ideas, I wrote about designing my summer last year as well.


Summer mindset: be where you are

During the summer we don't have as many obligations because we're on break from the kids' school, sports, and even Chris's work significantly downshifts. I am ready to embrace and appreciate all of that! On a recent episode of Pantsuit Politics, their "outside of politics" discussion was about summer aspirations. Beth talked about summer as a season of being present in whatever you are doing and I really loved that. She used the phrase "be where you are" and so I'm adopting that as my aspirational summer mindset.

To me, "be where you are" this summer will look like:

+ minimal phone use when I'm with my kids (something I already try to practice but it's always a habit to double down on).

+ focused work days while all three kids are at camp so that I can be off work duty when they are home.

+ embracing whatever activity I'm doing with the kids, from pretend play to a never-ending game of Uno or watching a movie together.

+ reminding myself that "it will be cool again one day" when I'm feeling grumpy about the heat, and then finding a small joy to lift  my spirits.

+ noticing summer glimmers, which are little everyday joys (and you know I love those)

I've also been thinking that summers have been hard in the past for two reasons: 1) it's so dang hot, but also 2) the ages of our kids. When you can't play outside then the summer days are very long with energetic kids inside. Especially if those kids aren't really old enough for a movie, a drop off play date, or other go-to bigger kid fun. But here's the thing, although we'll never change the summer weather, the kids get older every summer, and that seems to make the summer that much easier each year. So I'm remembering not to compare what was hard from previous summers because every summer is a new one, and I really like that.

Maybe every summer will be our best one yet, or at least I want to go into it with that optimism!



Summer eating + drinking

I love a seasonal shift in what I'm eating and drinking. Plus a favorite beverage, meal, or snack is exactly the kind of small joy that I need to give me a boost on a long, hot day. Here are the food and drinks I'm looking forward to this summer:

+ Sparkling water. I've started stocking cans of flavored sparkling water either from Trader Joe's or the Good & Gather brand from Target, which has some great flavors. I love to reach for a can of sparkling water in the afternoon and love to bring one with me for errands.

+ Cold brew coffee. I just bought my first jug of cold brew for the season. I love a cup of iced coffee mid-morning. I will also happily treat myself now and again to a cold foam cold brew at Starbucks.

+ Summer fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, red grapes, mango...the best! I want to keep us stocked with fresh fruit through the summer, and might need to plan for a mid-week fruit run to keep up with the kids. For a while now I've been loving a meal or snack of cottage cheese piled high with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of toasted pecans. So I plan to eat that on repeat through the summer.

+ A few summery recipes calling my name include: roasted peanut kale crunch salad, a chickpea cucumber salad I've been loving this spring, poolside sesame slaw (with tofu), and the luxe s'mores bars from the Smitten Kitchen Keepers cookbook (ooo la la Chris made them last summer and they were so fab!).

+ Take out from favorite restaurants: Salad And Go, Uprooted Kitchen (love their Wednesday and Friday night dinner specials!), and Air Guitar, which I've recently become more fond of after discovering their weekly coffee, sushi, and pizza specials).



Everyday summer joys

Something I love to do ahead of summer is to browse my Instagram feed and Google photos for photos of previous summers. When I do that I'm always reminded of all the fun, cold treats, and little joys we found during the hot days. And it helps remind me of those summer seasonal things that I can look forward to doing again this year. Some everyday summer joys that I'm looking forward to this summer include:

+ Watering my plants. I feel very committed to trying to keep some newly planted plants alive in my yard this year. We don't use sprinklers or a drip system so this requires hand-watering. Being outside always lifts my mood and we get some nice morning shade in our yard. Plus being near a running hose feels really nice when it's 95º before 8 a.m.!

+ Early morning hikes. I'm hoping to find a couple of brave souls to do some very early morning hikes with me this summer (think: hit the trail at 5 a.m.) so that we can get in a hike before it's blistering.

+ Pool days. I love the public pool so much. I love the community aspect (like the library!), seeing everyone enjoy getting cooled off, and the top hits playing over the speaker. And getting in the pool always improves my mood by about 150%. I'm looking forward to some pool afternoons and I hope a few pool picnic dinners. A Jersey Mike's sandwich at the pool for dinner sounds pretty perfect to me.

+ Summer movies. My whole family is really looking forward to Inside Out 2 this summer. Are there any other good movies coming out at the theater or streaming?? We also have local theaters that show re-runs of recent kids movies for discounted ticked prices and I enjoy taking the kids to see those.

+ Weeknights with no commitments. After the gauntlet that is Maycember I am so so excited to look ahead to weeknights with nothing on the calendar except for the fun things I really want to do.

+ Weekly exercise. My exercise routine brings me so much joy and I find that it's an anchor for me during the summer when my weeks are less routine. Even if it's over 110º for days on end I know that I can keep going to the workouts that I love which is a certain kind of comfort for me.

+ Summer reading. Another anchor in my life that brings me abundant joy. I'd love to read a few fun romances and also some suspenseful crime novels – anything that is completely absorbing. A few books on my summer reading list are The Boyfriend Project, The Weather Girl, What She Knew, Rabbit Hole, and Listen for the Lie. Do you have any great recommendations for me?

+ Day dates with Chris. This summer we'll have several weeks where all the kids will be gone Monday and Wednesday at camp. I'll have podcast and writing work to do but we'll definitely be able to fit in some coffee, lunch, and movie dates as well. And of course will plan to have a babysitter a few times as well. Having that one-on-one time together can really reset our moods if the summer heat/siblings squabbles/constantly messy house are putting a damper on our spirits!

(And two I forgot to add before I recorded the post but they are worth mentioning...)

+ Summer monsoons. The Arizona monsoon season (did you know we have one?) runs from June through September. By mid-summer towering clouds build up east of the Valley on most days and even if we don't get a storm I love the sight of a dramatic sky. On a good year we get a handful of storms, and sometimes they are quite intense. The sound of rain drumming, thunder rolling, and that hopeful smell of rain are so welcome in the desert.

+ Sedona book club retreat! A highlight of every summer and my whole year. There's no better way to pass the summer heat than leaving it, especially with a group of my best gals to beautiful Sedona. This is happening after school starts back up again but we'll still be in the depths of summer weather and I already can't wait.


Okay, I think I feel ready for summer! I'd love to know what you love to eat, drink, and cook during the summer and what summer glimmers you'll be finding.