I hope you have made the time to create special memories with family and friends. When we begin to hear the words, "Mom, I’m bored," we realize that summer is really here with the relaxation it brings for children. Here are some ideas that might help to curb the boredom and keep them relaxed but focused.

• Create routine charts for summer days, including daily chores.

• Make something fun out of the ordinary schedule. Take time to play games, walk or play together.

• Talk to each other, learn from one another. Teach your children life skills and listen to their dreams.

• Create a special memory for the summer; start a new tradition.

Summer can become a wonderful time to build family relationships and learn together. Many of the memories we carry into adulthood stem around the days of summer vacation. During dinner tonight (or one night this week) ask some questions like the following:

• What is your favorite food during summer?

• What would you like to do yet this vacation?

• If you could go anywhere, where would it be? Why?

• What do you miss about school?

• What are you looking forward to about school starting again?

• Are you bored this summer? Why? What can we do to change that?

• What have you leaned this summer?

• What has been your favorite activity or event, so far?

And you can continue from there. Learning to share and communicate is a life skill that everyone can improve upon. Having positive memories does affect our attitudes and our coping abilities. They give us strength to solve problems. They also add to our self-esteem and our feelings of family — that our family is special and unique.

When we are aware of the importance of the memories we are shaping we can find the extra time, energy and enthusiasm to carry out family projects and the small and simple plans that are so important to our children. Research shows that what really affects children is the day-in and day-out way they are treated and the memories they get from the family experiences and love they have. So take time today to talk about and think about the things that are important to you. Get the calendar out and plan for some happy memories of fun times and work times, memories that can reinforce strength and coping along with the memories of how special your family really is.

One way to give your family a special treat is to prepare healthy meals for them by including more fresh fruits and vegetables. Cooking and serving meals together helps to build a strong family. Conversation is easy when we are all working together. Here are a few ideas that you might consider.

• Add fruit to breakfast cereal

• Add grapes or sliced apples to chicken salad, or tomatoes, radishes and bell peppers to a tuna salad.

• Top broiled chicken or fish with salsa

• Add fresh fruits and vegetables to dishes you like: berries or bananas to yogurt, vegetables to pasta and pizza, varied types of lettuce to salads and sandwiches.

• Use the grill to cook vegetables on a skewer; try fruits like pineapple, peaches or pears, they are great.

• Have veggies in the refrigerator ready to snack on when the urge to snack is there.

• Learn how to cook fresh veggies in the microwave to save nutrients.

Check out the 10 Tip Sheets from USDA for more information on increasing variety in your summer meals and preparing meals as a family, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins-tips-making-family-meals

Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.