How often have we lamented shortened summer vacations as schools begin their practices and tryouts earlier and earlier in August? Have you been frustrated by the things your children are being taught, or not taught in school? It’s time to look at stay-at-home orders as the blessing they can be. Let me share a few things our family and friends are doing.

Build a tent. Our granddaughters snagged the patio umbrella and built a tent, or fort in the family room. They attach sheets and blankets to the umbrella with safety pins and bag clips to completely enclose their cozy space. Twinkle lights were then added to create a comfy, peaceful place. Next came the air mattress to make a perfect place to relax. Finally, the flaps were adjusted so when they were opened there was the perfect view of the TV. Mom and the girls now hunker down with popcorn in hand to watch their favorite movies and the girls sleep peacefully under the “starry” lights. If you are feeling really lazy or the kids are too young to build a tent, bring in the camping tent from the garage, string Christmas lights inside and have fun.

Chalk drawing. I’m sure we have all seen children’s chalk drawings on driveways and sidewalks with fun images and encouraging words for those out walking. Why not do the same on your retaining wall or fence in your own backyard? Now, when you look outside you will be greeted by something beautiful. Chalk will wash off later. If you have a friend who walks by every day write a message specific to them, “have a great day, Emma”.

Celebrate your heritage. One family is celebrating a different country each day. Monday was Germany. They made and ate German foods all day and watched a travel show about that country. The children learned about and were able to actually “see” where their family was from.

Celebrate missions the family has served. Why not do the same with the places your family served missions, one day for each mission. Our son cooked Croatian food for his family this week celebrating his mission. If your family served in the United States or your home country, each region has specialties, Texas has barbecue, Ohio buckeyes, New Jersey a Trenton pie (it’s a pizza for you outsiders), and cultural differences, is it soda, pop, or soda pop, you get the idea.

A decade a day. A great way to teach history is to celebrate a decade each day. If you have family who immigrated in the 1920s eat foods popular in that decade, tell their stories and introduce them to the inventions and music of that decade. The 1920s had great music, check out Fats Waller. Continue with the decades mom and dad or nana and papa have lived.

Sibling sleepover.  Children love sleepovers. Host a sibling sleepover. Make kid friendly snacks for them to eat and fun drinks for them to enjoy. Let them stay up late into the night doing typical sleepover things and be sure you “disappear”. No school tomorrow so party and then let them sleep in. Memories such as these are what will bind your children as they become adults and have families of their own.

Music video competition. One of our daughters and her children challenged their cousins to a music video challenge. I wish I could share them with you. I think we may have discovered a few hidden talents. They used the APP Video Star, I’m sure there are others, making the editing simple, be aware all the things on this site are not G rated so check it out and monitor. Since all our children live at least 700 miles away from each other this has really been a great way for the cousins to stay in touch and laugh with and at the others. Why not challenge the young women or young men in your ward to a competition?

Soccer on scooters. If you have a large, flat, paved area or access to one, why not try soccer on scooters. I understand from family this is difficult but lots of crazy fun.

S’mores and more. I know its winter but why not break out the fire pit or barbecue and make foil dinners and s’mores. Just too cold? Make a table top “fire pit”. Take a clay garden pot, line with a double layer of foil leaving extra draping over top of the pot for easy lifting later. Add charcoal to the pot, light and allow briquettes to heat, time to toast marshmallows.  Be sure to place pot on a heat resistant surface. Make foil dinners and bake in the oven. Eat in your indoor tent.

Heart someone. You may not be able to hug friends but why not show your love by “hearting” them, with a twist. Cut large hearts out of colored paper or gift wrap. Write a message on each heart and tape them to glass doors and/or windows so the message can be read from inside the house, when your friends, or grandma, looks outside there will be a love note from you.

Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Google hangouts. The past two weeks have been a roller coaster ride for our family as we had a family member planning a sealing in April and a trip home from school for a shower. You guessed it, no trip home. We had an absolutely crazy and fun shower over Zoom. We played games, opened gifts very dramatically, for the bride hundreds of miles away. The best part, everyone could attend, all the aunts, cousins and grandmothers were there.

We did the same for a birthday. To get in the spirit of the occasion I made a balloon bouquet and hung a birthday banner so they could be seen behind me by our granddaughter 1,700 miles away. Again, all the extended family was able to attend, play a quiz about the birthday girl, and sing happy birthday.

Painting rocks. I’m sure you have seen painted rocks on Facebook the past two weeks but again, lets change it up. Our niece is a gardener and this week as she worked in her garden, she found painted rocks placed in her garden by neighbor children. What a fun idea. Surprise friends by placing painted rocks in the garden, mailbox, on the doormat, use your imagination.

Make it a special day. Finally, a few years ago we had a speak like a pirate day during a family reunion. Plan now to celebrate special days throughout April. Following is a list of National celebration days.

April 1st – April Fool’s Day
April 2nd – National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
April 3rd – World Party Day
April 4th – National Walk Around Things Day AND National Pillow Fight Day
April 5th – National Deep-Dish Pizza Day
April 6th – National Caramel Popcorn Day
April 7th – National No Housework Day
April 8th – National Empanada Day OR National Zoo Lovers Day
April 9th – National Name Yourself Day
April 10th – National Siblings Day AND World Marbles Day
April 11th – National Cheese Fondue Day
April 12th – National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
April 13th – National Scrabble Day
April 14th – National Dolphin Day
April 15th – National Take a Wild Guess Day
April 16t h –  National Wear Your Pajamas to Work  Day
April 17th – National Ellis Island Family History Day ( forget the Ellis island part if it doesn’t apply.
April 18th – National Animal Crackers Day AND World Amateur Radio Day
April 19th – National Bicycle Day
April 20th – National Look Alike Day
April 21st – National Kindergarten Day
April 22nd – National Jelly Bean Day
April 23rd – National Picnic Day OR National Talk Like Shakespeare Day
April 24th – National Pigs in a Blanket Day
April 25th – National Eeyore’s Birthday
April 26th – National Pretzel Day
April 27th – National Tell a Story Day
April 28th – National Superhero Day
April 29th – International Dance Day
April 30th – National Bugs Bunny Day

We know Heavenly Father loves us and is in charge so “Don’t Worry, be Happy”. Now is the time to appreciate the blessings in our lives. Spending quality time with our family, no soccer, no job, no school, no distractions, what could be better? Make memories now that will last lifetimes as your children share memories with their grandchildren.

Visit Carolyn’s Facebook page and the Totally Ready website for Coronavirus updates and help with your self-quarantine and self-reliance preparations. Please share what you are doing and learning as you self- quarantine.