How to Create an Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

When I think about my childhood summers, I think about never-ending games of Capture the Flag, sharing swiftly melting popsicles with the neighbors, catching lightning bugs in a jar with holes poked in the lid (did that even help those poor things?), solo bike rides around the neighborhood with no hands on the handlebars, discovering creepy earwigs crawling on my sleeping bag during campouts on the back porch, chlorine-crusted hair that still smelled of campfires in the morning, watching neighborhood pick-up baseball games from the roof of my dad’s Oldsmobile Cutlass. I know my memories are colored with the nostalgia of an idyllic childhood, but I can’t help but mourn the loss of a carefree childhood that perhaps my children will never enjoy.

Gone are the days when parents simply tell their children to “go play outside and be home by dinnertime.” I am old enough to remember hearing all of the neighborhood moms calling their children to come home for dinner. But that will never be me. I feel like if my kids are outdoors, it’s my duty to vigilantly watch their every move, maybe not hovering, but certainly engaging with them and looking out for their safety. It stresses me out to the point where they don’t tend to go outside as much as they probably should. But I worry about child abductors, broken legs, stray balls begging to be caught, and heck, even bee stings.

Did my parents think about those parental concerns as much as I do now? Maybe they did, but perhaps they felt safe enough, knowing their neighbors well enough that they felt comfortable giving us a little more independence each Summer. Either way, I lived for those hot, carefree days, and I often wonder if my children will be able to experience a similar childhood. Lately I’ve thought maybe I should just let go of the pressure to recreate something similar for them. After all, we live in different times.

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Now that Phil and I are using most of our spare moments to renovate our new house, I worry even more that my children are missing out on some kind of idyllic image of what I want their childhood to be. Maybe I’m too worried about personal productivity and my children’s safety, and therefore am missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a mom. Am I being too hard on myself? It’s not as if I have them plopped in front of the tv while I mindlessly scroll through apps on my phone. But I do try to be aware of how we spend these days of their childhood, as fleeting as they may be.

My own parents worked on home renovations during much of my childhood, and my dad was always building furniture in his garage workshop. (Now you know where I get it from, eh?) But I don’t remember missing out on fun family experiences. Did they purposefully set aside time to put down the hammer and power drill to get out and bond as a family? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes! How else would I have such great memories with my family as a kid?

I know that I’ll never be comfortable just telling my kids to “go outside and play,” unless I can see them easily from where I sit or work, but that doesn’t mean my kids won’t have special memories of Summers as I did. It just requires a little more planning, I think. And hey, I like planning, so I’m pretty confident I’m up to the task!

Recently I made a list of all of those things I mentioned earlier that made my childhood summers feel magical, and I realized I don’t actually need an idyllic Pleasantville-style neighborhood to make any of them happen. They just require making space in our lives, which means knowing when to quit working on house projects so we can spend time with our kids, without phones or other distractions.

Idyllic Childhood Summer

So what does our Idyllic Childhood Summer list look like? It’s not a list to make me feel stressed about completing it or failing as a mom, but it gives us some fun ideas of things to do together as a family, building our relationships with our kids and gifting them with memories that I hope they’ll always cherish. And if we don’t get around to everything this summer, hey! There’s always next year, right?

  1. Help Lucy learn how to ride a bike
  2. Have as many picnic dinners as possible
  3. Go berry picking
  4. Take the kids to the beach
  5. Catch lightning bugs
  6. Enjoy a campfire and make s’mores with friends
  7. Go to the fair and let Lucy go on as many rides as she wants
  8. Make popsicles to share with friends (Did that already!)
  9. Go camping with friends (probably will just be in one of our yards!)
  10. See fireworks
  11. Pool days
  12. Play dates at the park

Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Idyllic Childhood Summer

We recently got Lucy a Radio Flyer balance bike to help her gain confidence riding a bike without needing training wheels. It’s been difficult to motivate her to try something more challenging than a trike, but The Radio Flyer travel agency has given us some fun ideas to motivate her to get outside and learn to ride, engaging her creativity as we imagine fun destinations she can get to from within the comfort of our neighborhood park! But only on her Radio Flyer balance bike. :)

enter to win

When I think of timeless, nostalgic toys, Radio Flyer is the first brand that comes to mind. The classic children’s toy company was started in 1917 by Antonio Pasin, whose dream was to “bring joy to every boy and every girl.” Today Radio Flyer is still admired for their attention to quality and consistency in quality and design. Some things really do never change!

To celebrate their 100 anniversary, Radio Flyer is giving away one toy daily until June 30th. Check out the Stars and Stripes Giveaway and enter to win! The prize changes every day. Share your own family’s Radio Flyer adventures on Instagram and tag them with #radioflyer100 for an extra chance to win.

Idyllic Childhood Summer

Radio Flyer Giveaway

Did you have a red wagon when you were a kid? We used ours to transport supplies for fort building and other neighborhood adventures. Maybe I should add a Radio Flyer wagon to our summertime list, eh? Oh, and be sure to check out Radio Flyer on Facebook and Instagram for an extra dose of nostalgia!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Radio Flyer. The opinions and text are all mine. 

The Sunroom Plans

mandi makes a sunroom

Now that we’ve finally closed on our new home, we’re ready to begin work making all of my plans a reality! The first room we’ll complete beginning to end will be the sunroom, because it’s a small space that will be a bit easier to tackle. I think having one chaos-free space (with a dining table to boot!) will be great for us, because we’re planning to move in to this wreck of a house in a week or two, and I have a feeling it’ll take a lot of effort to keep my sanity. :)

Each part of the process is so fun for me, but planning is the most enjoyable part for me! It is definitely a mentally consuming undertaking, designing for oneself. But so much fun! Once I settled on plans for each of the rooms we’re gutting, I found my mind much more at ease, and began sleeping better at night. That’s a relief because I need all the rest I can get during these days of hard work! (Check out my kitchen plans here.)

mandi makes a sunroom

The sunroom is a narrow 7′ wide and 15.5′ room in the back corner of our home, separated from the great room by a lovely pair of wood and glass french doors. It leads out to our currently un-utilized patio area, but we do plan to build bench seating and planters in that area in years to come.

I plan on situating a nice chair for reading on the side of the room where you can currently see a little plastic slide. It’ll be situated among a few houseplants and a side table for docking my coffee and books I’m currently reading. On the opposite side of the room (as seen below), I’d like to have a bench area with a small table and chairs for the kids to enjoy books, games, puzzles, play dough, and snacks. I plan to build the bench with storage inside, and will probably deck it out with plenty of extra pillows for comfy reading sessions.

mandi makes a sunroom

The soffit on this side of the room would be a perfect area to tuck in an upholstered wall to act as the back of the storage banquette. I had planned on just building a standard upholstered bench back, but then I saw this pink dining nook on Pinterest and it completely changed my life! Ha! Channel tufting feels very late ’70s, but in the right setting feels very ahead of the latest design trends.

sunroom banquette elevation

My goal for this space is to create a refreshing environment that feels comfortable but not cluttered, modern yet inviting, and very bright. I like a little minimalism, but also will never lose my love for mid century classics. A little bit of boho feels right for a sunroom space, so don’t be surprised if you see some embroidery, wicker, and other natural elements in here. It’s a place where plants and people can be equally happy. Aren’t those the best kinds of spaces?!

 

sunroom planning

  1. IKEA linen curtains
  2. White wicker pendant light
  3. Minimal fabric wall sconce
  4. crewel embroidered pill0w (vintage from this Etsy shop)
  5. Olle Eskell poster
  6. Faux marble tulip table
  7. Vintage wicker bucket chair from Main St. Modern
  8. Cowhide rug
  9. Flooring- Island Pearl Bamboo from Lumber Liquidators
  10. Wall color- Benjamin Moore Super White

sunroom chairs

Choosing a chair for the sunroom is bringing out my natural over-thinking tendencies and giving me sleepless nights. Quintessential first-world-problem, I know. But the channel-tufted banquette wall and the sleek tulip table are such statement pieces, I want to find a pair of chairs that both stand up to those bold elements, but don’t make the small space feel too try-hard or overwhelming, stylistically speaking. I can tell you now I am most drawn to chairs 1, 2, and 4.

My brother has a set of 6 original Bertoia chairs (chair #2), of which he’s only currently using four. He has offered to let me foster two of those chairs until the day he moves to a different home more accommodating of his collection. How fortunate I am to have a brother with such impeccable taste and generous spirit! But I am also very tempted by these chairs and need to keep a style in mind that I’ll need to one day purchase to replace my borrowed chairs.

  1. Thonet bentwood chair
  2. Replica Bertoia wire chair
  3. Rattan chair
  4. Wicker cantilevered chair
  5. Patterned chair
  6. Upholstered tapered leg chair

Have you been following along with my renovation videos on Instagram? They expire after 24 hours, unfortunately, but be sure to check them out from time to time! We’ve been busting things out left and right, and today I ordered countertops for the kitchen! I can’t believe it’s all finally happening! Woo hoo!

Our Glamping Trip in Sonoma County

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Phil and I were excited to be able to do two things we’d been longing for our ten year anniversary— A week away from our kids, and a trip to California! I already shared the cute a-frame cabin we stayed at during the second leg of our trip, but check out our third stop in Sebastapol! How cool is this Airstream trailer?

Our Glamping Hub hosts, Ene and Scott, are artists who’ve carved out a spot in the redwood forests for inspiring studio spaces, family living, and for hosting travelers like us. We enjoyed making meals in the spacious kitchen of their guesthouse, while returning from vineyard visits to enjoy drinks by the Airstream.

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

A highlight of my trip was to be able to steal away for large chunks of time to catch up on my reading. Ene had supplied the kitchen with plenty of coffee for guzzling, so I indulged myself by leisurely sipping cup after cup while cuddling with Phil on this cozy sofa— books in our hands and a generous view of the redwoods across from us.

Did I mention we made pancakes every morning for breakfast? We’re obviously not ones to deprive ourselves while on a vacation. We also shamelessly made frozen pizzas for dinner, which we enjoyed on the private patio just off the living room of the guest house.

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Glamping in the California Redwoods

Check out the tree swing in the meadow by the Airstream trailer! We’ve got to get one of those for our new house. Made me feel like a kid again. (I’m talking about the swing, but man, wouldn’t it be great to have such a gem of a trailer?)

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

Airstream Glamping in the California Redwoods

I was in awe of the beautiful wood-clad ceilings throughout the guest house. Ene indulged me in talking about the renovations she and Scott had completed at the house, which had been a far cry from the peaceful home it is now. I can really appreciate a renovation done right, and love that the California mid-century character of the home is still in tact.

Glamping in the California Redwoods

One thing that shocked us about our visit was how much change we experienced just driving one hour across one end of Sonoma County to the other. We started on the Pacific coast in Bodega Bay (site of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds!), where we shivered against the cold breezes of the bay as we licked ice cream cones, as any good Ohioan would do.

Phil drove up the rocky coastline of Highway 1, listening to my reminders to keep his eyes on the windy road, as I soaked in the magnificent flower-speckled cliffs I had only seen in the movies, but had never seemed real to me until that moment. Driving eastward, we drove through charming California towns with no cell reception, and then into the rolling hills of Sonoma that resembled the Italian countryside (or at least what I imagine it is like). I observed that the cows in California do appear happier than the ones we have back at home. :)

Bodega Bay

Ene showed us the guestbook which included a treasure trove of vineyard recommendations from sommeliers who’ve shared wine-wisdom for the benefit of future guests, like Phil and myself. We don’t claim to be wine connoisseurs by any means, though I do like to think I know a quality glass of wine when I taste it! But for me, my experience in Sonoma County was as much about the sights as it was about the wine— if not moreso.

I had selected a vineyard in the heart of Sonoma, near the town center, specifically because of how beautiful the grounds looked in photos. Perhaps a vapid reason for selecting a vineyard to visit, but we were fortunately not disappointed by our visit to Scribe Winery! Phil said it was his favorite part of our trip, being in such a beautiful, relaxing space for an enjoyable wine tasting experience.

Scribe Winery

We’d love to get back to California one day soon, and plan to carve out more time for wine tasting and exploring the natural landscapes of the region. I was disappointed that our visit was a week too soon to rent canoes to take out on the Russian River during a weekday. But that just gives us something new to look forward to next time, eh?

Thank you for hosting us, Ene and Scott! Be sure to check out their rental listing at Glamping Hub. Phil and I really enjoyed our time we spent at their peaceful home in the redwoods.

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