It's August, and at our house, that we're celebrating the last days of summer with a bit of countdown.
The idea for this project started as a concrete way for N. to understand how long it will be until the next big event in our lives, a visit from our St. Louis cousins. Ever since the plans were put into place for this visit, N. has been on practically an hour by hour questioning about "my cousins coming now?"
O. has a calendar in his room, and enjoys marking off days the way he did in preschool, but for N., it's still very abstract. I thought maybe if she could see each day as a concrete symbol as we do as Christmas approaches, it might make it more real.
We have other major events coming up, such as my cousin's wedding, N.'s birthday, and New Baby's arrival, so I decided to make a countdown for the whole month of August. Eventually it will also include the first few days of September up to N.'s birthday, but I ran out of room for hanging for now. Basically, it's an envelope for each day of the month, each stuffed with a little surprise for the kids.
I got this idea from a collection of advent ideas here. There lots of cute images and ways to do this sort of project. This one just happened to match supplies I already mostly had around the house, though I did have to get some clothespins.
This is the spot I hang a Happy Birthday banner for everyone's birthday, so when we're done opening envelopes, I'll replace it with the banner for N.'s birthday.
School doesn't start for us until after Labor Day, so we're lucky to have the whole month of August to enjoy. I always get a little melancholy about the end of summer -- it's my favorite season. Since I've usually been either a student or a teacher, back to school is always a mixed blessing. This year, the school supply inserts in the paper have made me really queasy, perhaps bringing up all of my new baby/new family anxieties.
I didn't want this countdown to turn into a wishing away of these last few weeks of unstructured time together. It's getting easier and easier for me to blame the heat and my belly for not doing much of anything. I want to make sure we have a chance to do some really fun things that we won't necessarily be able to do once school starts, O. is in kindergarten every weekday, and we're working around the needs of a newborn.
This past Christmas, I took an idea from Family Fun magazine and incorporated Christmas activities into our advent calendar. Every day of the month of December, there was a slip of paper with a Christmas activity written on it for us to do as a family. Some were big events we always do, like visit the live nativity or get our picture taken with Santa. Others were little things like "Help Mommy with Christmas cards," or "Sing Christmas carols after dinner." It was a big hit, so I've added that idea into our End of Summer Celebration.
Some of the envelopes have an idea for a fun thing for the kids and I to do together, like go to the water playground, or play at the park and get ice cream afterwards. Others have bigger events we've already planned, like going to Kings Island with Grandma and Grandpa, and heading out of town for the big wedding.
The other envelopes just have little surprises in them, like packs of fruit snacks, a sleeve of Pez, a sheet of stickers, or a glow bracelet. I've marked the big dates with stars so they can see how many more days until they approach.
We've only opened two days worth, and so far it seems to be a bigger hit with N. than O. He wasn't too impressed with the sucker and fruit snack surprises so far. Perhaps when we get to a pack of Silly Banz he'll be a little happier, though I hope he gets on board with the "what fun thing are we doing today" aspect soon.
What do you do to "countdown" to big events at your house? What are you doing with the last days of summertime?