(1) Schedule? What Schedule? During the school year I try to maintain some semblance of a kid-friendly schedule --especially in the evenings with our dinner, bath, and bedtime routine. But that boring routine leaves no time for catching fireflies and eating s'mores. So we abandoned our schedule about mid-June. Now, we nap whenever we are done playing. We stay up until 9:30 p.m. or so, running around the backyard until we collapse. Dinner is ready -- well, whenever I manage to get it ready. And we sleep in until 8:00 a.m. or so. Why not? We don't have to be any place at any particular time.

I know that school days will mean the return of "appropriate" bedtimes and mealtimes. Fine. But for the next few weeks, we are going to be stargazing and playing t-ball in our yard until we have all had our fill.

(2) Swimming. Swimming. Swimming. We swam in Lake Michigan. We swam in Lake Geneva. We swam in public city pools. We swam at swanky, private country club pools. We swam at Grandma's house. We swam in the baby pool in our backyard. We swam at water parks.

Our bathing suits are faded and saggy in the bum. Hardly a day went by when we weren't getting wet somewhere. My four-year-old is officially a swimmer (no vest, floaties, or baby pools for her, thank you very much). She looks a little bit like a drowning dog while she is at it, but she is swimming on her own. My two-year-old son has eschewed his cautious approach to the water in favor of totally kamikaze, reckless jumping into the pool (please see photo for a visual).

They both have made tons of progress in the water and we all have had so much fun.

(3) Grow, Garden, Grow. We grew a garden -- a great garden. We planted tomatoes, peppers, swiss chard, zucchini, carrots, and herbs. My little ones helped to sew the seeds, pull the weeds, and water our fledgling plants. Now, as the plants actually bear fruit, my kiddos happily rush out to see what is ready for harvesting.

This simple family activity has brought us hours and hours of summertime bliss. My children feel real pride and ownership in having helped to grow our own food. I am already planning our (much, much bigger) garden for next year.

(4) Dirty Hands. Dirty Feet, Dirty Faces. My kids are filthy at the end of the day. Disgusting, Stinky. My bathtub has a ring of dirt around it every night after my two monkeys have washed. There is no nail brush strong enough to remove the soil, gunk, sand, and God knows what else from underneath their fingernails.

I view each muddy footprint and sand-filled pair of shorts as signs of a truly fun summer day. We can celebrate the virtues of cleanliness when the snow and cold keep us barricaded indoors in a few short months.

(5) Summer Food. With our weekly visits to the farmer's market and our CSA boxes full of goodies, we have been filling our tummies with with best that summer has to offer. First we gorged ourselves on strawberries, then raspberries, and now blueberries and peaches. We are downing squashes, peppers, corn and home-grown lettuce on an almost daily basis.

We have all been eating food that we can feel good about. Real food. Food that comes from a farm. It taste so good. And it feels so good.

Your turn now. Tell us about your happiest summer moments with your little ones.