2014 Summer in Review

So on Monday I posted about how much left we have to do this summer.  Despite the fact that we left so much undone, I have to admit that we definitely did have a bit of fun along the way.  Here’s what we accomplished this summer:

  • Wendy was confirmed
  • Princess Anna graduated from preschool (sniff!)
  • 1 day trip to the beach with Prince Charming to watch Wendy play sand soccer
  • VBS (x2)
  • Community Fun Day
  • 1 minor league baseball game (not including the Mother’s Day game)
  • Hosted a 2-day yard sale (made barely anything…oh well…)
  • Visited the church yard sale
  • Had fun with friends on the 4th of July
  • Visited the library (multiple occasions!)
  • Put together puzzles
  • Played Hide & Seek
  • Used our imagination to have fun
  • Played with sidewalk chalk
  • Learned a dance
  • Made a video
  • Spent some time with some of my favorite church ladies
  • Spent some time with some of my best friends in other cities and states
  • Yard Game Day
  • 1 trip to the beach with my parents and the little ones
  • Princess Anna went to Kindergarten Camp
  • Went to church camp!
  • Hands on House
  • Please Touch Museum
  • Princess Anna and Rapunzel both completed 4 swimming lessons
  • 17 locations for letterboxing
  • Princess Anna and Rapunzel read for a combined total of 1,012 minutes
  • I completed The New Dare to Disciple by Dr. James Dobson
  • Even Wendy read a few books (and she doesn’t like to read!)

In the middle of all that, Prince Charming and I began counseling and parenting classes; we worked together to vacuum every day for 6 weeks, did laundry every day for 6 weeks, and lived out of containers to rid our house of pests for 6 weeks; Rapunzel attended play therapy every week; finished one soccer season and began another; went to the dentist; completed one school year and prepared for another; taught Princess Anna to buckle herself (HOORAY!  Thanks to Wendy!); celebrated several birthdays (Princess Anna turned 5!); tended a garden; became even more involved in our church (if it’s even possible); babysat my little buddy from church); exercised; colored; did extra work for money; and went to the park.  I’m sure there was more, but I’ve listed enough.

How did you spend your summer?

The Seven-Day Sprint

Oh my goodness…I am just thinking about the next couple of weeks in a panic.  Some of you may be sharing the same thought: WHERE DID SUMMER GO???

Crazy mom that I am, I had this summer completely booked.  I don’t know what it was about last summer, but I feel like I got so much more done.  This summer completely got away from me.  I can’t possibly be the only mom who feels this way, as I know some of you had kids who went back to school a few weeks ago!  (Our kids start on the 19th.)

I have to admit: some things came up this summer that kind of threw a wrench in my plans (happens often!).  We had some issues with Cinderella that needed addressed, which has added more to our calendar.  We added swimming lessons to the schedule for Rapunzel and Princess Anna.  An impromptu trip to the beach with my parents also came up for the little ones.  Mix in some pest control issues (which required some in depth house cleaning we didn’t anticipate) and an extra VBS and you have a full summer.

Still, I have to say I am a bit disappointed that we didn’t accomplish certain things.  For instance, we have 13 locations left to find for our letter-boxing adventures.  The insane mom in me says we will do seven this week.  The sheets are due on Sunday, so we will have to give up there.

We are many minutes short of our 800 minute goal.  At this point, Princess Anna needs to read 50 minutes a day to reach our goal by the deadline, and Rapunzel needs to read 34 minutes a day to reach the same goal.

If they were to complete all of the worksheets I had for them, they would need to complete 12 worksheets per day.  I have the feeling that is not going to happen; however, for incentive, I think I will offering bonus points for each worksheet completed.  (Hopefully this will also help keep them out of my hair while I work this week!)

I can’t wait to post about our adventures visiting museums this summer!  I had really hoped to go to one more tomorrow, but Cinderella is working, so that won’t happen.  We have a membership though, so we’ll probably go several times throughout the rest of the year.  We were able to have Yard Game Day, and we have scheduled Spa Day for this Friday.

All of that being said, this post is entitled “The Seven-Day Spring”, because I intend to make the most of the next seven days I have with the kids (technically 8 if you want to include next Monday, the day before school starts).  Here is what I’m hoping for:

  • Squeeze in as many review worksheets as we can (I’ll probably give them a break the day before school though)
  • Read 50 minutes each day with Princess Anna and 34 minutes each day with Rapunzel
  • 1 more swimming lesson each for both Princess Anna and Rapunzel
  • 7 Locations for Letterboxing (4 on Tuesday, 3 on Saturday)
  • Take Rapunzel to Hershey Park with the tickets she earned last school year (so excited for her first time!)
  • Spa Day!
  • Picnic at the creek on Saturday (catch some minnows and crayfish, find shapes in the clouds, and watch the birds)
  • Corn Roast

Let’s go ahead and throw in counseling, parenting class, chores, preparing children’s church and Sunday school lessons, checking the teacher’s list at the schools (SO EXCITED!), work, and spending time with one of my besties, and you’ve got one crazy to-do list!

How are you spending your last summer days with the kids?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (AND A DISCOUNT!)

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I’m super-excited to announce that I’m offering MY VERY FIRST ETSY SHOP SALE!  Because my birthday is in August, I wanted to offer you all a very fine discount…just because!  So head on over to my Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/MakingtheMostBlog?ref=ss_profile and enter the code HAPPY28 on checkout!

Enjoy!

P.S.  Keep your eyes peeled; new posts to come soon!

Avoid the Summer Slide: Review Packets Worth Investing In

I spent quite a while this past month searching for a summer packet for the kids.  Now before you think I’m crazy, I don’t make them do schoolwork all summer.  If you saw my last post, you know I love to fit in lots of fun.  But I also hate to think that my kids missed out on great learning opportunities and fell behind just because I decided to let them completely veg out over the summer.  Must be the importance of education that my grandma ingrained in my head.

So finally I came across some great packets that I thought would do the job.  I hate spending money, but I don’t have the patience to make my own worksheets (or the knowledge for that matter!), and I worry that the workbooks available at the store cover the common core.  What better way to know than to get it from a teacher.  So we decided to invest.  And $6-$7 per packet really isn’t bad for keeping your child up-to-par for three months.

Here are my favorites.  I hope you like them as much as I do!

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On My Way to K by Miss Kindergarten Love – $6.75 at TPT

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Ready Made for 2nd Grade by Lyndsey Kuster @ A Year of Many Firsts – $7 at TPT

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1st Grade Summer Packet by Faith Wheeler – $7.50 at TPT

Know of some other great summer packets for this age group?  Please share!

Planning Summer: Theme Days

Not one of my parenting priorities, but just something fun: theme days.  Having theme days allows to do a variety of different things under a certain theme.  This keeps the kids busy and sometimes allows me to be more closely involved with their play.  Here are some of the theme days we have planned for this summer:

First Day of Summer Party
Construction Day
Craft Day
Yard Game Day
Sports Day
Splash Day
Spa Day
Last Day of Summer Party

I always plan for plenty–that way, when I don’t get to all of them, we still remember the ones we were able to have fun with.  Our favorite: Spa Day!  Last year, each of the kids invited a friend over, and we painted nails, made homemade chocolate face masks, and did some hair.  This is another MUST DO for this year!

What are some of your favorite themes?

Super Summer 2014 Is Almost Here!

Before I even knew it, June was upon me!  I always feel like I’m in a frenzy, trying to get things done.  Working.  Driving the kids.  Other work.  Soccer.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Taking care of the kids.  More chores.  Groceries.  Working.  You know.

So many of you have already entered the blissfulness of kids-are-home-for-the summer.  For some of you this might be wonderful.  For others, this may be terrifying.  I have a love-hate relationship with school summer vacation.  Yes, I love being able to do things with my family.  But I have to say I really DO NOT like to take them to work with me.  It seems like no matter what I do or give them, they are still constantly fighting, hungry, thirsty, wanting to sit on my lap, using all the tape, drawing on things they’re not supposed to…

But back to the fun part.  What I like best about summer: memory-making.  I love love LOVE knowing that I am making memories with my kids–the kind of memories I remember spending with my grandparents over the summer when my dad was working.  Church camp.  Ice cream.  Fireworks.  Museums.  Outdoor activities.  I loved fishing with my grandpa, playing wiffle ball in the back yard, playing in the lake.  Going to the library.  Ah, but we’ll save that for another day.

I realized I am way behind in revealing my summer calendar!  I hope you will check out my summer calendar and come up with some awesome ideas of your own to fill in there as well!  Oh, and while you’re here–let me know what you think and what your favorite ideas are!

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Planning Summer: Getting Outside

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Another item of great importance to me and my parenting style is exercise.  I have always struggled with my weight, and there are several weight-related diseases that run in my family.  It is my goal to encourage active behavior early in life so that my kids live a healthy lifestyle as adults.  Because of that, I like to make sure I get the kids outside to play.  I also remember some of my greatest fun as a kid being outside.  I hate to have my kids staring at the TV all day when they could be running around.  Here’s what we are planning to do this summer to encourage that behavior:

Camp out in the back yard
Roast hot dogs
Make s’mores
Corn roast
Go roller skating (this will probably be on our sidewalk)
Fun day at the park
Start a water fight
Picnic at the creek
Watch the birds
Plant a garden
Catch bugs (be careful with this one–last year, Rapunzel caught a bee!)

Our #1 outdoor activity is the local parks’ summer program.  Every year, they set up little platforms at various local parks, and you have to follow the directions provided to find them.  Each one has a piece of plastic on it with an image cut out, and the object is to place a piece of paper over the image and color it with crayon so that it shows up on the paper.  The goal is to get all of these, and we have for the last two years in a row.  It sounds easy, but they change up the parks every year, some trails are fairly difficult, and some can be over 2 miles.  We spend most of our time over the summer on this, and we have many great experiences from the last two years (too many to mention!).  Check with your local library and park programs; maybe you have something similar in your area!

What do you like to do outside with your kids over the summer?

Planning for Summer: Being Creative

One of the most important things to me when parenting my children is encouraging their creativity and the creative process.  Since the start of my parenting journey, I’ve been all for creative play: less about the toys that do things for you and more about the dolls and legos, crayons, paper, etc.  Apparently I did a good job of this too, because my kids have this knack for making just about anything using paper and an ENTIRE roll of tape.

So that being said, of course I am all for encouraging creativity throughout the summer.  Here are some of the things we plan to do to keep those creative juices flowing:

Make our own bubbles
Blow those bubbles
Find shapes in the clouds
Write in your journal
Learn a dance
Make a video
Create a collage using pictures from magazines
Play with sidewalk chalk
Create a photo booth and take pictures
Make oobleck and play with it
Use your imagination day!
Build a fort
Write a story
Draw pictures to go with your story
Make a sock puppet
Put on a show with your sock puppet

I’d also like to visit two area arts festivals over the summer as well.  It looks like a huge list, but when you space things out and group some of the smaller things together, it really isn’t too much when your kids are home all summer.  Better building that creativity than having their face in a cell phone!

I still have a couple of days to fill.  What creative things do you like do with your kids?

Favorite Apps: Apps That Save You Money

Since our budget has fluctuated so much in the last few months, I’ve been attempting to become a little more frugal with the little bit of money that we have so that what we have might stretch a long way.  Of course I’ve received much help from my coupon-fanatic best friend of 15 years and some extremely helpful websites (I’ll share those at another time), but I definitely appreciate the little helpers that I can carry with me everywhere right on my phone.  I hope you’ll try them out and find that they help you stretch your dollar too:

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Cartwheel: This Target app allows you to save money on many different items at Target.  You might check this app when you have your grocery list to maximize your savings or just browse through it to see if there are any good deals you can use on those things you don’t need but were hoping for a good deal on.  Add the savings you want to your personalized Cartwheel barcode and have the cashier scan it when you’re checking out.  You can use these savings on top of your other coupons, and they can be used as many times as you like before they expire!

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Favado: Use this app to search out the best deals at your local stores.  You can search deals by store or type in the item in the search bar to find out which store has the best deal.

 

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Mint: 
You may have already heard of this app, as it’s been around for quite a while as a supplement to the website.  I use them all together to track my spending: managing my checkbook, tracking what we spend money on, and budgeting for the upcoming month.  We’ve also used it to build up our emergency fund and also to pay off our debt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unit Price Compare: I’m a big proponent on comparing unit prices before I buy something.  I like to make sure I’m getting the most I can for my money.  It’s not always easy to compare unit prices when you’re tired and stressed (or if it’s been that long since you had a math class…).  Just plug in the unit and size of the items you are comparing (less any coupons you are using), and it will tell which is the best deal.

Sometimes You Just Need a Day Off

For those working Momma’s out there…sometimes…(and I hope you realize it) you just need a day off.  If I share anything in common with any of the other working moms out there in the world, I could probably bet that many of you hate taking a day off.  For some of you, it just means there’s that much to catch up on when you get back to work.  For others, it might mean that your short on pay for a day.  I have been both of those.

But really, no matter what your situation (and I can say this, because I’ve worked full time, stayed at home, and worked part time–sometimes all at the same time and sometimes at different times–at some point in my life), you JUST NEED TO TAKE A DAY OFF.

What prompted me to write this today was Wednesday.  I drove all the way over to work only to realize that I forgot my key.  And being the only employee with official hours on Wednesday this week (I work at a small church), there just wasn’t anyone to let me in.  As I drove back home to get my key, I tossed around different scenerios in my head.  When would I make up that forty minutes I just lost?  Do I just call it a day?  Do I work late?  After weighing my options, I just decided to call in.  (Please keep in mind that you can’t just take off whenever you want–unless, of course, you are your own boss–but check in with the boss first to make sure it’s approved!)

Now back to WHY I needed the day off: I made the mistake earlier this week of thinking my workload this week had lightened since Easter.  Not so much.  Since I try to save as much money as possible by shopping at different places depending on deals and coupons, I had several places to go.  I had meat to separate in the basement refrigerator (we buy in bulk), Sunday School items to prepare, among other things to take care of.  So i took the morning to prepare my lists and head out to the various stores.

Thank goodness I did, or I never would have gotten everything done!

If you’re behind at home, and it’s stressing you out; if it’s affecting your mood; if you’re just worn down; if you just need one day without someone needing you every second…find a babysitter, call in sick…just take the day off.  Your kids (and probably your husband, if you have one) will thank you for it.