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. 

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.

Our Glamping Vacation in a California A-Frame Cabin

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

One young teacher + one freelance blogger = how many years without a kid-free vacation? Ten years! But boy, was it worth the wait. This week Phil and I celebrate ten years of marriage, move into a new home, and return from our dream vacation with Glamping Hub! Talk about a whirlwind week! And I’m so excited to share it all with you.

First let’s talk about this charming can’t-believe-it’s-real cabin we stayed at in Cazadero, California! After two days tromping around San Francisco on foot (no camera because I wanted to be in a vacation frame of mind, leaving behind any sense of blogging responsibilities), we drove up the Pacific coast, stopped in Bodega Bay (to complete my Alfred Hitchcock sight-seeing tour), and finally rested our weary bodies in this dreamy a-frame cabin by Austin Creek.

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

Glamping in California

Phil and I both love to read, though we don’t find too much time to lose ourselves in books when we’re in the midst of work and family life at home. We both enjoyed the peaceful sounds of nature in the redwoods, along with the trickling water of the creek, as we relaxed on Adirondack chairs with coffee and our books. If you were following along with my Instagram posts, you’ll have seen the two books I read during this trip, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth and The Nix. I enjoyed them both, but The Nix was superb!

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

Just existing for two days in this cool cabin was a real treat for me. It had everything we needed, so we cooked all of our food here and enjoyed selecting records that we listened to from the time we woke up until the time we went to bed. We stopped in Santa Cruz and picked up groceries at Trader Joe’s at the beginning of the trip, and I have to confess— we bought a box of pancake mix and bottle of maple syrup and used it all up before the week was out! Pancakes for breakfast each day? Now that’s how to vacation properly!

The property also has a vintage Airstream trailer to sleep extra guests, but since it was just the two of us, we spent our time in the main cabin.

Glamping in California

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

The record collection at the cabin was pretty varied, to my delight! I started out listening to The Ventures and the Beach Boys to get into the California mood, but by dinnertime we were ready for jazz and candlelight. :)

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

vintage a-frame cabin

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

Glamping in California

The property also has the coolest little sauna area, which would be nice for the cooler evenings. We didn’t end up using it, but probably would’ve if we had stayed for another day. We did, however, fully utilize the hammock!

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

Glamping in California

We were so thrilled to finally be able to get away, just the two of us, for the first time since our honeymoon ten years ago. Many thanks to our Glamping Hub hosts! I’ll be sharing the second place we stayed at soon, but in the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of our next trip to Cali.

A-Frame cabin in the California redwoods

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