The (in)complete guide to surviving summer

Here it comes: the graduations, the preschool programs, the end of the year parties. All predecessors to the time of year kids look forward to most. Love it or not, SUMMER is {almost} here.

As a child, summer meant endless time with friends outside in the sunshine. In college, it meant a nice break from the regular demands of school and a little extra time at the pool to do some tanning against the recommendation of the dermatologist.

As an adult (and parent), summer can mean all of the above, but mostly it means: WHAT ON EARTH DO I DO TO ENTERTAIN THESE CHILDREN?

So without further introduction, here’s a list of ideas I’ve compiled to help you answer that question without having to do too much of your own independent research.

IMG_22581)  GET IN THE WATER. This one comes first because, Florida. And it mixes great with temperatures in the 90s, which kicked off at the start of this month. Gather some friends and hit the pool or the beach. We are fortunate to have some incredible neighborhood pools in the area, complete with kid splash zones and bathrooms. This option is great if you’re up for a more low-maintenance day that doesn’t require much planning above some snacks, swim diapers, and towels.  

IMG_2257We’re also fortunate to have some great beaches in the area. On a weekday, the local beach accesses in and around Neptune Beach and South Jax Beach offer some great spots to park (for free) with some fun tide pools where the kids can play. Bonus tip: keep it low key and go in the afternoon when the condo buildings offer some shade so you don’t have to lug the umbrella!

2) JUMP AROUND. Okay, this one costs a bit of money, but I’ve found it to be well worth the expense (read: longer nap time forIMG_2261 the little ones). Indoor trampoline parks like Rebounderz and Velocity Air Sports are a super fun way to wear out the kids and get some exercise for yourself, too. Our family typically goes to Velocity, and they have a little kids jump time every Monday through Friday from 9 – 10am where kids (6 and under) jump for $10 and caregivers jump for free. For my fellow non-morning people (we don’t get anywhere by 9), you just have to enter by 10am and the deal is still good. Please note: kids over age 6 can’t jump until 10am, so if you’ve got older kids, keep that in mind. Visit the Velocity website for more information.

3) STORY TIME. Jump in on a story time at one of many locations throughout Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Public Library has numerous branches throughout our city that offer story time for all ages. The main branch downtown has the added perk of Sweet Pete’s being nearby, which has three floors of sugary fun.  

Story times are also available at Barnes and Noble and Pottery Barn Kids. If you’ve got older ones, let them play on the nook tablets in the Barnes and Noble or try their hand at adult coloring in the store.

4) GET MESSY. Spray some shaving cream on a table and let the little ones draw in it. They think you’re the coolest and it wipes off easily when they’re done. Bonus! It smells like you cleaned your house (and your kids). Other suggested messes include water balloons, sidewalk chalk (or sidewalk paint!). For friends with kids who like to explore new things by tasting them, add some food coloring to plain yogurt to make some yogurt finger paint!

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5) WORK IT OUT. Check out local gym options. Ideas for the younger ones include TNT, My Gym, Bay and Bee, and Gymboree. If you’re a YMCA member, take advantage of the childcare and summer camps for the kids and get in a workout for yourself. That option not for you? Check out Strong Fit that meets at Chets Creek Church or Jax Stroller Strength, which offers fun exercise classes at the Beaches, Riverside, San Marco, Mandarin, and Nocatee.


My secret workout plan? Youtube. There are TONS of channels that offer fun, high-quality workouts of all types for all levels. I’m currently hooked on Yoga with Adriene, which has added a a nice element of exercise to my day.  My son also enjoys doing “down dog” with me, since I told him he gets to pretend that he’s a pup from Nickelodeon’s “Paw Patrol”.

6) Keep an eye on Jax Moms Blog. No need for me to reinvent the wheel here with a comprehensive list. Jacksonville Moms Blog has numerous resources for summer fun. They’ve also got neighborhood groups (i.e. Southside Moms, Beaches Intracoastal Moms, etc.), so be sure to join your respective group or groups on Facebook.

A few tips on top of the above suggestions:

  • Don’t forget the SPF. It is already HOT out there and the bright sun is beautiful, but can do a number on your skin. We remember our kiddos, but are we lathering ourselves, too?
  • Strength in numbers. Beach with 3 kids sound like a chore? Text a few friends or put a shout out on the Chets Women Facebook page to encourage others to join you.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you put on real pants to go to the store, that’s a win, but you can’t always be a winner, you know? And, let’s be honest, sometimes a trip to Target in my yoga pants is all the energy I’ve got for the day, and that’s okay. The children will live.

Hope you kick off your summer with a lot of fun!  Add to the conversation and share your own tips in the comments and/or on our Chets Women Facebook page. Cheers!

12014987_10106673537993213_9060993253906575158_o{This post was written by Laura Wilson. Laura is wife to Aaron, mommy of two cutie pies, and a speech language pathologist at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. She serves on the Chets Women Communications team. As a mom, she carries an artillery of goldfish and toys everywhere she goes. She loves learning more about the Lord from his word, her family, and Starbucks.}

Grandma found at Chets

When I was asked to share this particular story, my knee-jerk reaction was to wave it away, not because the story is anything less than truly amazing, but because this is not the type of thing I usually do. In the past, I’ve tended to be very personal with my faith and only recently am I truly beginning to grasp how important it is to share this aspect of life. After some thought (and much-needed encouragement by the ladies in my bible study), I felt this was something I was being led to share.

My husband and I are relatively new to Jacksonville and Chets Creek – we moved here last July for my husband’s job, away from, quite literally, everyone we knew. Up until November, I worked outside of the home as well, but we then made the decision for me to stay home with our two children (3 and 1) hoping it would help with some of the challenges of being in a new area. We weren’t truly “connected” at Chets until January when we joined a Life Group and I decided to sign up for a Women’s Bible Study. I decided I was going to sign up for one long before I decided *which* one (admittedly, one of my primary reasons was to get more connected with women outside of my Life Group). Despite always wanting to do a Beth Moore study, I was inexplicably led to select Fingerprints of God by Jennifer Rothschild, along with 7 other ladies.


Throughout the first month of study, we discussed God’s individual touch on our lives as well as how He uses extraordinary and individualized means to make Himself known (Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc). So here we came, to our fourth meeting as a group. We were discussing feeling God’s touch with gratitude and exploring the barriers that we have to thankfulness/gratitude. One thing that I have struggled with very much since our relocation has been social media. I see pictures of our nieces with my parents-in-law and instead of thinking, “Wow, this is so cool that we live in a day and age where we have a privilege to be a part of that remotely,” I find myself thinking, “Awww, I miss all of that. I wish our kids could see family more often…” (Cue the pity party.)  

I shared this with the ladies in my group. I shared how my biggest hurt in my heart is for my kids. I shared about my sorrow in taking them away from family who loves them dearly. I tearfully shared my feelings about how they are missing out on those treasured grandparent relationships. Just thinking about it always makes me an emotional mess so sharing it with the group was a big deal for me.  

Thankfully, there was a tissue box nearby. The ladies with me were tearful, too, and sought to comfort me. Then, Jennifer, the woman sitting next to me, said, “I can be a surrogate Grandma.” There were head nods all around in agreement. For me, this was indeed touching, but I had no idea what to say. So, knowing myself, I would have been likely to think, “Aww, how sweet! Ok, well, I’ll see you next Tuesday!” and not end up following through on anything. When it comes to social situations, I tend to be all talk and no game. Just as I was about to retreat, Jennifer said something that stopped me in my tracks, “By the way, my grandma name is Nonni.”

All guise of holding it together went out the window as I tearfully explained that my mom is Nonny.  

Neither of us have ever known another Nonni/y and were shocked at this revelation. We hugged for who knows how long as the tissues made their way around the table, and she kept whispering in my ear, “This is God,” and “God is good.” It’s as if God had used her revelation of being Nonni to snap me out of whatever funk I was trying to dive into. God used her to say, “Pay attention! This is Me! You need to follow through on this!”

I am very happy to report that the first time we got together, my children immediately took to Jennifer. It has been a blessing for my children and I to get to know Jennifer. I am so thankful that God brought us together and for this beautiful example of His personal touch on my life.  




I feel so thankful that God allowed me to be a witness to His work in this circumstance. God really showed His compassion to Sydney through Jennifer and how kind He is to allow the rest of us to witness His work so individually and specifically just as we were all studying how God touches our lives. It was as if He lovingly and gently said, “Yes ladies, what you are studying is true and I will demonstrate it to you right now!” That special moment in class, while Sydney and Jennifer were hugging, I looked down at my study guide where we left off and I read what I had written earlier in the week to ask the ladies – “Who does God send to touch us?” ~ Eve Huntly

IMG_3179I am so thankful to our Lord for bringing Sydney and I together. My mother, Velma, passed away at the age of 58. She was beautiful, loving, friendly and generous. She loved the Lord, served others and she impacted my life abundantly! My daughters were very young at her passing and I was heartbroken they wouldn’t get to grow up knowing their Grandma. I needed to honor the precious wisdom and love my mother shared. God is so GOOD and has given me multiple ways to honor my mother and serve Him by serving others. I am so blessed by this opportunity to visit with Sydney’s precious children…what joy fills my heart!  ~ Jennifer Hackenberry



IMG_3099{This post was written by Sydney Frank. Sydney is a wife and mommy of two, Aria (3 years) and Brand (18 months).  She and high-school-sweetheart-now-husband, Ryan (married almost 6 years) are new transplants to Jacksonville, originally from Minnesota.  She is slowly adjusting to becoming a stay-at-home mom and spends most of her time trying to keep up with her kiddos, fueled mainly by coffee and the all-so-rare nap.}

If you’re ready to get connected with other Chets women, join us for our Summer Bible Study on Monday nights from 7:00 – 9:00pm beginning on May 16th. Register here and invite your friends. Pass on the details using the Facebook Event.