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This is summer

Be here now.
If you find yourself today inundated with ads for school supplies, school clothes, school shoes, back-to-school coffee—I just want to say one thing, and that thing is this:

IT’S STILL JULY.

Unless your kids are back to school next week, just take that pile of Back to School advertisements, and straight-up recycle them. Close the news feed full of ads. Delete the emails.

(If, later, you want to know what’s on sale at your favorite place, you can always look online. No worries.)

Even if your kids ARE back to school next week, TODAY can still be all about shorts and tee shirts and sunscreen and watermelon.

Too hot, too sticky, too many hours of Go Fish: maybe.

A long, lazy day of iced tea and toes in the pool: why not.

AC and a movie: I am jealous of you right now.

This is your summer, and yes it will end, probably all too soon. Maybe you’ll be ready, maybe not, but either way, the end isn’t here yet.

May you soak up this moment first.

(I mean, go ahead and shop if you want to — I love a cart full of sticky tape and markers as much as the next girl — just don’t let someone else’s desire to sell you pencils push you on to the next thing until you’re ready.)

Be here now.

There and then can wait a little longer.

I’m posting a few words of midweek encouragement here for you — and for me — over the summer.

DIY Paracord necklace

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DIY Paracord necklace

I don’t USUALLY steal my kids’ craft supplies, okay, but in this case it looks like I did exactly that.

Every summer, we go to visit relatives who live in the mountains. It’s one of our favorite things. We pick and pick and pick blueberries, and spot wild turkeys, and see the stars, and hear frogs all night long.

We think of it as our own personal version of summer camp. And do you know what every good summer camp has?

A craft shed.

When I was a camper as a child, were allowed one craft per day for free out at the craft shed, and after that we had to spend our commissary money to buy supplies.

Craft supplies did not trump ice cream bars, though, so I would stick to my minimum daily tie dye allotment and then just hover and watch everyone else make stuff the rest of the time.

I learned all kinds of other things, too –

How to shoot a BB gun in the general direction of a paper target, without ever once hitting said target.

How to hop through a knee-deep mud pit on one foot. (I want to say it was part of a relay race?)

How to sing about the joy-joy-joy-joy down in my heart while also playing capture the flag.

How to use the inside of a paper cup to wax a playground slide, and how not to do that any more after one kid zipped down so fast he broke his leg at the bottom.

Important life skills, all, but none really held a candle to the craft shed.

DIY Paracord necklace

One year, I won a craft award for cobbling together a pair of paper earrings. They were orange and cactus-shaped and covered in glitter. I wore them with a puffy-painted tee shirt and one of those plastic rings you used when you were too lazy cool to just tie a knot in your shirt’s hem.

After the awards ceremony, my camp counselor actually said something like, ‘THANK GOODNESS you won that one, because you sure weren’t going to win anything else.’

That is as accurate a summary of my swimming and hiking abilities as you will ever find.

(She was wrong, though. The next year I won… the watermelon speed-eating contest.)

I love me some camp crafts, is the moral of that story.

Now our summers look less like cabins-with-bunk-beds-and-sketchy-showers, and more like lots of time with people we love, sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags (because hi there are a lot of us), being close to nature but also air conditioning, and eating blueberries until our fingers all turn purple.

But we still have crafts.

And when the kids scored a paracord bracelet kit (like this one), I might have maybe snagged a little bit of craft time for myself.

DIY Paracord necklace

Make a paracord necklace

Start with a long piece of cord, about three times longer than you want the necklace to be.

Finger crochet a few lengths along the cord.

(Finger crochet = make a slipknot, then a row of chain stitches, using your fingers instead of a crochet hook. When you’re done crocheting, pull the end of the cord all the way through the last slip knot and tighten.)

I went for crocheted sections that were not all the same length and not evenly spaced. Style choice, or laziness in action? You decide.

Knot the ends together to make the necklace as long as you like. I tied a square knot.

Or if you don’t want a knot to show, you could tuck the ends of the cord into one of your crocheted sections and hot glue it into place.

Trim the cord if you need to, and dab hot glue on the ends to keep them from unraveling.

That’s it. Hooray, you have an indestructible necklace! The cord holds its shape, so it’s kind of a sculptural piece.

DIY Paracord necklace

Summer camp chic. I’ve still got it.

P.S. – For more DIYs, try this list of projects, or check out my most-pinned posts.

Watermelon is a parenting strategy

Go for the easy win today.

Some days we need our routines, our consistency, our predictability. But this week, today: may you see an easy win and go for it, even if it isn’t in the plans.

Spend all day at the beach, or the pool, or in someone else’s backyard. Don’t contingency plan, don’t pack for every possible outcome. Grab suits and snacks, and go.

Remember that watermelon cures all manner of ills, whether first thing in the morning or in the late-afternoon stretch. So does popcorn, for that matter. (Those are what we call “the two food groups of summer.”)

Hit the park after dinner and play until dark, or snuggle in to watch a movie on a weeknight.

Don’t watch the clock. Watch your people. Head to bed when they’re drooping, or let them all snooze on the couch. Worse things have happened.

Skip the clean jammies and the baths and the hair brushing. Wipe down their muddy feet and let them fall into bed.

We’re not talking about their whole childhoods. No one’s going to turn feral in a day. Let the rules go. Give yourself a summer break, even if you’re not going anywhere at all.

May you have a chance to say yes to the easy win this week. Seize the season.

I’m posting a few words of midweek encouragement here for you — and for me — over the summer.