The UItimate Summer Family Movie List


Three days into summer break and I’m all, “Wait, why was this cool again?”

Can we swim? Can you make me a sandwich? I’m thirsty. Can you tie this? Can you fix this? I’m hungry. Sophie peed. I need a towel. I need a cup. I need a napkin. I’m bored. 

I forgot how quickly it escalates.

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I’m happy to report summer enthusiasm still measures in the upper quartile though. I figured we simply could not move forward with summer festivities though without a good list of summer family movies, and Friday’s a perfectly good day to get it done. One of my favorite summer rituals is watching movies when we’re trapped in the cabin on a rainy day up north, and up there we do it old school style–not pulled from Netflix or streamed from Amazon, but…wait for it…we insert a DVD into a player. Gasp. And half the fun is rifling through the stack of DVDS–summer favorites that have been collected for rainy days and quiet nights.

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With no further ado…

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And why yes, I do have a thing for old Lindsay Lohan movies.

Wanna make your summer movie night even better? Try these:

1. Move all the furniture in the family room and throw pillows, couch cushions and sleeping bags on the floor. Make a movie fort.
2. Lead up to movie night. Make “Movie Night” flyers and hang them around the house before the event and pass out homemade tickets (kids love these jobs!)
3. Make individual popcorn bags (cute little red and white stripe bags seen in above photo, perfectly sized for toddler portions, available in the dollar section at Target currently)
4. Pajama prerequisite.
5. Make S’mores sundaes. Chocolate ice cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and those freeze-dried marshmallows (you can buy them in the hot cocoa aisle).

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6. Drag movie setup outside, hang twinkle lights, invite neighbors and throw a big outdoor movie party. This one’s a lot, I know. So, also okay if you think about it, pretend you did it and then don’t.

Did I miss an amazing summer movie on my list? Have a summer movie ritual that we just have to try? Tell me, tell me!

Rest and Refuel: 6 Tips for Recharging Your Batteries


Tracking PixelThis post is sponsored by SLEEP NUMBER® as part of an ongoing partnership with them to discuss Family & Rest in our home…helping our family be the best they can be.

If you type in “Parenting Advice” in Google, 63,600,000 results pop up, ranging from how to get your kids to stop flushing Happy Meal toys down the toilet to the more important things like how to raise confident, grateful, motivated little people. Over the years, I’ve stashed away some tried and true advice that has served my family well, but I always come back to the foundation of good parenting: If you want to help your family be the best they can be, focus first on being the best you can be. It is not a noble sacrifice to deprive yourself of rest and care and fun to make sure your kids have it because what they need more than rest and care and fun is you. The best you. The you who follows her passions and makes time for friendships. The you who is fully-rested and wakes up ready for the day. The you who listens to her feelings and responds to them–who’s kind and forgiving to herself, who values her body and mind and heart. That’s the mom who’s trained before her marathon–who’s most equipped and ready for little people who need her.

After my third kid, I had no choice but to give up the whole I-can-survive-on-a-few-hours-of-sleep thing. Occasionally, under abnormal circumstances, I’ll pull a late nighter, but for the most part, I now go to bed shortly after my kids go to bed. And it makes me such a happier person. When I’m short on fuel, I’m short on patience and compassion which leads to lots of guilt. And guilt drains the compassion and patience tank even more–a vicious cycle of not enough. So, how do I help my family be the best they can be? By keeping my tank as full as possible.

My favorite fuel tips? When I’m feeling low on anything, I can always return to this list to fill my tank.

1. Body Love.
Do something good for your body. A good meal. A run. A healthy smoothie. Remove junk from my diet. Increase water intake.

2. Mind Love.
Mind love looks exactly like body love–remove the bad, ingest the good. I know what works to fill up my brain–poetry books, good quotes, a moving memoir, writing in my journal. Putting my phone away. 5 minutes of meditation. Draw in a sketchbook.

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3. Do Something For Someone Else
Make a collage and mail it to a friend. Call someone and tell them 3 nice things you’ve noticed about them lately. Leave a nice comment in someone’s social media feed. Take a friend you’ve been missing out to coffee–and tell them you love having them in your life. Make a small donation to a cause you love.

4. Pare Down
Do a 20-minute sweep of your home with 2 bags–one to donate, one to throw away.

5. Touch
Snuggle your kids. Hug your husband when he walks in the door. Spoon your kids in bed while tickling their hand. Kiss cheeks.

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Climbing into bed and calling TOD on the thoughts, the stresses, the to-do list, the daily routine is equivalent to plugging your body into a power source and recharging. You will wake up with so much more to give. My bed is my sanctuary, and I love it even more now that we have a SLEEPNUMBER i8–my side is customized just for me, and it’s the comfiest piece of heaven.

Mama’s charge-up list works for the entire family. My kids function best with a consistent rest schedule (we alter schedules for Dash’s naps!), and their grumps can always be cheered up with some affection.

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(Their favorite pre-bed ritual? Books about themselves.)

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Thank you Sleep Number  for encouraging the important discussion of family rest and recharge. We’ve fallen in love with our Sleep Number bed which features DualAir™ technology that allows Brett to adjust his side to what his body needs and lets me get my side perfect for me.

Rested, happy mama means I can take care of my family and, er, fish those toys out of the toilet without losing my cool. Click here to find a Sleep Number store near you.

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Mother’s Isle: The Giving Tree


I stood at the highest point in Collier County yesterday, a hill over nine miles away from the beach where you can look out and see the entire city engulfed in a canopy of blue sky and edged by a scattering of high rise beach condos that look like little Lego buildings from where we were standing. It was beautiful–quiet and breezy, and Lainey was right there with me to enjoy the moment, still holding my hand at one week short of 9 years old. For juxtaposition, I should add that there were about 40 other kids with us, a bus that–by the grace of God–made it up the hill safely (kids screaming all the way), and we were standing on an observation deck constructed over a closed garbage hill at the third grade field trip to the county landfill.

That’s right. I had a sacred motherhood moment, standing–literally–smack center of a dump.

Back up to that hand in mine though. To the swoony early Mother’s Days when breakfast in bed meant nursing a baby snuggled next to me while it was still dark out, and the question of “What are we going to do today?” could be answered in a simple rock-paper-scissors style game of “go for family adventure” with stroller, Boba carrier or baby sling. There’s no new way to say that time flies, but every year, I understand my mom’s dream a little more–the one she still has where we’re little again, but she wakes up, unable to catch her breath for a moment because the sudden truth that we’re all grown-up and moved away feels crushing in contrast.

We painted mother-son hand prints in Dash’s class this year, wore tissue paper corsages in Nella’s, and Lainey’s 10 Reasons Why I Love My Mom has been taped to the refrigerator of my heart. But they’re getting bigger, and life expands, and the fact that motherhood doesn’t all fit in a magical snow globe anymore-even though I knew it wouldn’t–takes some getting used to.

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We hold the same tradition though–a day at Isles of Capri for Mother’s Day. The footprints they leave in the sand are bigger now. But the sand and the beach and this place where we’ve been making memories for years is different too. Less beach, more docks. A wall built by the fire department. Changing tides. “It’s not what it used to be,” Brett mumbled, “I miss our old place.”

“I do too, but we’ve changed too, you know,” I answered. “Everything’s going to change. It can’t stay the same.”

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As for me, I have a strange loyalty to places that hold memories. In a way, this is our Giving Tree. We’ve swung on its branches, carved our names in its trunk. Paddled its kayaks, taped our dollars to its bar, put our babies in walkers and let them glide across the old wooden planks of its tiki hut floors. I’ll come back to this place if it’s simply a tree stump, and I’ll sit on that stump and remember every good time it’s given us. And I’ll be grateful as I am today that times and people and places change, but year after year, this day still comes–this celebration of motherhood–the heart-breaking, beautiful, ever-expanding definition of what it truly is, and the joy of watching them grow. I’ll take it all.

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Some blue skies and happy snaps from our Mother’s Day this year:

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The teeniest tiniest crab you ever did see. Meet Ralph.

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Several years ago, this exact spot used to be covered with crabs–hundreds of them that would scurry and dive into holes as soon as they saw you coming. Austyn and Brandyn used to fill buckets of them when they were little. We can only ever find a few here now. I think the rest have grown up and are off at college studying crab things. Good for them. You go, little crabs!

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Looking for sea snails stuck to the dock pilings…

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Nella thinks everything is a crab. She runs rocks and shells to me, completely overjoyed to show me: “Mommy! Look, it’s a cwab.”

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Oh, Giving Tree. You’re so pretty.

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(Little Ballyhoo here got to say a nice up close and personal hello to Dash and got put right back in the water where, I’m sure, he breathed a little sigh of relief and then swam off to tell his friends about the boy he met.)

The changing, the growing, the receding tides…through it all the sun rises and sets. The breeze still blows. Take my word for it. I felt it at the dump.

And if you think that’s a far-fetched silver lining, wait. I have a better one for you.

Heidi called me the other day to report that her husband, while doing business in New York City last week, called to tell her that a man stole money from his wallet and ran–right in front of him–in Central Park.

“So I told him,” she said, “That’s so awesome! Do you realize you have the best story now? Jeff! You got the full New York experience, this is so cool!”

“You seriously put a silver lining on that?” I asked. “Heidi, you cannot pull an Enjoying the Small Things on GETTING MUGGED.”

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Hope y’all found a little sunshine this weekend.